Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
Lyon snares 4-0, leaps ahead of Johnson
Nathan Lyon runs rampant in Abu Dhabi, taking four wickets in six balls to become Australia's fourth most prolific Test wicket-taker
Louis Cameron Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
16 October 2018, 08:00 PM AEST
Nathan Lyon has gone past Mitchell Johnson as Australia's fourth all-time leading Test wicket-taker in remarkable scenes in Abu Dhabi.
In an astonishing implosion from Pakistan that left coach Mickey Arthur with his head in his hands, Lyon single-handedly engineered a collapse of 4-0 over the course of six balls in a start to the second Test few could have predicted.
Lyon removed Azhar Ali for a pained 15 and Haris Sohail in consecutive deliveries and although he missed out on a hat-trick, he then had Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam both dismissed for second-ball ducks in the following over.
Already his country's most prolific off-spinner, Lyon (314 Test wickets at lunch on day one) has now moved past Johnson, who took 313 Test wickets in 73 matches, on Australia’s all-time leading Test wicket-taking charts.
Only legendary trio Dennis Lillee (355), Glenn McGrath (563) and Shane Warne (708) remain ahead of him.
It was an eventful morning at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Tuesday after Pakistan won the the toss and elected to bat, with Marnus Labuschagne hanging on to screamer at short off Mitchell Starc to give Australia their first wicket.
Labuschagne then dropped the simplest of chances off Jon Holland's first over to give debutant Fakhar Zaman (49 not out at the lunch break) a life.
But from there, it was the Lyon show.
After bowling three straight maidens to begin his spell, the right-armer removed Azhar as Pakistan’s No.3 advanced down the wicket, but only managed to slice a caught-and-bowled chance back to Lyon, who gratefully accepted the catch.
The left-handed Sohail then departed the following ball, bunting one straight to Travis Head at silly point to reward a smart field placement from Tim Paine.
Shafiq denied Lyon a hat-trick on the first ball of his next over, but then popped one up to Labuschagne at short leg. While Australia’s appeal was denied, Paine reviewed and television replays showed Shafiq had got a sliver of an inside edge before the ball ballooned off his pad.
Babar then inexplicably trotted down the wicket on his second ball, attempted a wafting drive against the spin and missed to be clean bowled. It sent Lyon and the Aussies into rapturous celebrations as Arthur watched on in despair.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed nearly ran out Fakhar before the first interval, with the opener marginally making his ground on the quick single.
Pakistan were 5-77 at the lunch break, with Lyon having taken 4-12 off his seven overs.
Having struggled on Australia’s last Test tour to the UAE against Pakistan four years ago, Lyon’s spell has only enhanced his reputation as one of the world’s best spinners.
Congratulations to my “little bro” @nath.lyon421 on passing me on 313 test wickets for Australia. Bloody proud of your achievements so far and I have enjoyed your success. Well deserved and plenty more to come mate #lookout400 #wickets #baggygreen A post shared by Mitchell Johnson (@mitchjohnson398) on
The 30-year-old has markedly improved his subcontinental bowling as well; from his last eight Tests (including the ongoing one) in Asia, Lyon now has 49 wickets at 19.97.
It’s a stark contrast to his three wickets at 141 in the two-Test campaign against Pakistan in 2014, with Lyon recently revealing a post-series chat with Younis Khan, the champion Pakistan batsman who dominated Australia in that series using the sweep shot, helped him work out an effective method in Asia.
"I've had four years, I've had plenty of time to think about it," Lyon said ahead of the drawn first Test in Dubai. "I had a good chat to Younis Khan after that series and he said, 'The only reason I sweep is because I don't trust my defence and I'm sweeping your best ball'.
"If these guys want to sweep, I know I'm a different bowler from four years ago. I know I'm a lot more confident than what I was four years ago as well.
"The experience I've had in the last couple of Asian tours, hopefully that'll put me in good stead."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Pakistan Test squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez
Oct 7-11: First Test, drawn
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi