Melbourne: Australia will have plans chalked out for the returning Rohit Sharma, seasoned off-spinner Nathan Lyon said on Monday, describing the swashbuckling India opener as one of the best players in world cricket.
Having missed the limited-overs leg of the tour and the Tests in Adelaide and Melbourne due to an injury, Rohit has joined an upbeat Indian team for the last two matches and Lyon is aware of the threat the batsman can pose with his wide range of strokes.
"Obviously, Rohit Sharma is one of the best players in the world going around, so it is going to be a big challenge for us bowlers, but we are going to show our way from it, we love challenging ourself," Lyon said at a virtual press conference.
"He (Rohit) is a big input for Indian side, so it is going to be interesting to see who they leave out.
"But we will have our plans ready for Rohit, and hopefully, we can get on top of him nice and early, but respecting how good a cricketer Rohit is," added Lyon, who is on the verge of playing his 100th Test.
Rohit has been named India's vice-captain for the remaining two Tests after he missed the first two as he was recovering from an injury sustained during the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Lyon said one of India skipper Ajinkya Rahane's strengths is that he does not indulge in sledging or conversations with the opposition bowlers while he is in the middle.
"He (Rahane) is obviously a world-class batter, which obviously helps with everything. I think the patience that he shows at the crease, he doesn't seem to get (frustrated) much.
"He (Rahane) doesn't buy into any sledging or any conservation out there in the middle, he is pretty calm and collective batter (of the) opposition, so it is few different things that he offers.
"... But he is obviously leader of India at the moment as Virat (Kohli) is not here, so he is standing up at the moment and I know we will have our plans ready to hopefully combat him come the SCG Test," he said.
Lyon also had words of praise for his Indian counterpart Ravichandran Ashwin and said the Tamil Nadu off-spinner has bowled quite straighter to the Australian batsman and they had no answer to that.
"Yeah, Ashwin is bowling very well. He is a world-class spinner and I have said that throughout my whole career. He has bowled quite a straight line to our batters, which they haven't had come up with a plan as yet.
"I think they will come up with one of them and counter Ashwin's plan in Sydney," said Lyon, who has 394 wickets from 94 Tests.
"But he (Ashwin) is a world-class bowler and what you expect, he has got a decent record around the world, so hats off to him," the Australian added.
Lyon also stated that he has devised "a couple of different plans" for Rahane, who hit a dogged match-winning 112 in the Melbourne Test.
"I think (Ajinkya) Rahane played me extremely well in Melbourne, so I know I am going to come up with a couple of different plans for him and a few different guys, so I am looking forward to putting them in place.
"But, to be honest with you, we have been pretty accurate with our bowling, as a squad to take 20 wickets quite quickly in Adelaide but then challenged little bit in Melbourne.
"But to stay there and keep creating chances, that was a positive. So, we are very confident as a bowling group and I know personally I have got a few different plans to put in place."
According to the 33-year-old Lyon, Indian batters have always tried to be attacking against him.
"I think they (Indian batsmen) have played me pretty similar. Every series I come up against India, they try to be quite attacking," he said.
Currently, the series is tied at 1-1 with Australia winning the Pink-Ball opener in Adelaide and India emerging triumphant in Melbourne.
The third Test will be aired live on Sony Six, Sony Ten 1 and Sony 3 from 7 January.
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Hit by a barrage of injuries through the series, India picked debutants Washington (3/89) and medium pacer T Natarajan (3/78) in the playing eleven on Friday.
India will be forced to field a second-string bowling attack with all their premier pacers, including Jasprit Bumrah and spin-bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja ruled out with injuries.
Ashwin came in with a sore back, Vihari had a hamstring tear that severely restricted his ability to run between the wickets. What the two did not lack was the resolve to hang in there and fight.