Lyon's five wickets put Delhi Test on knife's edge

Morning session: 28.1 overs, 90 runs, 2 wickets.
Australia: 262 all out
India: 59 for no loss

Australia were all out for 262 in their first innings on the second day of the fourth and final cricket Test against India here today. In reply, India came out and reached 59 for no loss when lunch was called.

Australian resumed the day on 231-8 and for the first thirty minutes it looked like Peter Siddle, who got his maiden Test fifty, and Pattinson were carrying on from where they left off on day 1.

There were steady in defence and even managed to hit a few fours to bring up their 50 partnership in 119 balls. The odd ball was still bouncing and turning but as long as the batsmen were prepared to bide their time, they looked comfortable.

But thankfully for India, it could only last for so long. After seeing himself get him for fours in his previous over, Ashwin slowed down the pace and tossed one up. It gripped but didn’t spin as much as Siddle thought it would. It went past the bat and crashed into the off-stump.

Ojha claimed his 100th Test wicket. Reuters

Ojha claimed his 100th Test wicket. Reuters

It is Ashwin’s ninth five-fors in 16 Tests and even though all nine have come at home – these are sensational stats. The off-spinner has a total of 90 wickets in his Test career and his strike-rate is 59.3.

At the other end, Pragyan Ojha had waited all innings to get his 100th Test wicket and he finally got there by claiming Pattinson’s wicket. Once again, Pattinson played for turn but was undone by Ojha’s arm ball. Virat Kohli took a good catch in the slips.

Ojha has become the third-fastest Indian to 100 wickets, behind Prasanna, who did it in 20 Tests, and Kumble, who did it in 21. And any way you look at, India is pretty blessed to have such spinners. But where will they go on from here? How important is it for them to figure out how to bowl overseas?

Dhoni had a surprise in store for all those who expected Rahane to open the innings when Cheteshwar Pujara was promoted instead. Murali Vijay was at the other end. Perhaps the instruction came from the selectors, who have said that Rahane is being considered as a middle-order batsman. But Rahane has previous experience as an opener for Mumbai and the move runs the risk of disturbing the batting order.

However, it came off quite well in the 14 overs that India had to play before lunch. Pujara and Murali dealt in boundaries as Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson erred in length. The duo had hit 5 fours by the time the total reached 29.

After that Siddle tried to exert some control but he didn’t have too much support from the other end.

Post-lunch session: 24 overs, 76 runs, 2 wickets
At tea: India 135-2

After 19 overs on a turning track, Australia finally turned to their lone spinner Nathan Lyon. And he quickly showed that skipper Shane Watson had got his tactics wrong.

Pujara and Vijay had been batting well. The pacemen were beating the bat with the odd ball but there was nothing that would scare the batsmen out of their wits.

Then, Lyon came into the attack. The first three overs of his spell went by pretty peacefully but then with the first ball of the fourth over, he struck pay dirt.

File picture of Nathan Lyon. Reuters

File picture of Nathan Lyon. Reuters

In almost an action replay of the Siddle dismissal, Pujara played for the turn. The ball didn't turn as much and hit the off-stump. Considering how good Pujara had looked; considering how well the makeshift openers had done, Australia needed a way to get back into the match. Pujara's wicket did that and it also gave Lyon a huge confidence boost.

An over later, Virat Kohli was also walking back. Lyon shifted to around the wicket and the ball kept low. The batsman was trapped right in front of his stumps. And suddenly India were 114-2 and we had a game on our hands.

A couple of over later, Tendulkar should have been walking back too. He was beaten by Lyon while trying to play the sweep shot. The ball, bowled from around the wicket, pitched in line with middle stump and straightened but the umpire Kettleborough didn't think it was out. It was a close, lucky shave.

India still trail by 127 runs with 8 wickets remaining in the first innings and their hopes lie with Murali Vijay who is batting on 54. Tendulkar, on 12, has struggled to deal with Lyon.

Post-tea session: 30.1 overs, 131 runs, 6 wickets
At close of play: India 266-8, lead by 4 runs

This session had it all. Some fight from the Aussies, some sledging, umpires getting involved, Lyon taking wickets, India losing them and then a fightback led by Ravindra Jadeja.

This was the kind was session that Test cricket aficionados live for. It had an edge to it and even though many might be saying that this is a dead Test, Australia and India were certainly giving it their all. They were playing for history.

It started off with Siddle claiming the claiming the wicket of Vijay (54). The ball jumped up off a length and there was little Vijay could do.

Rahane walked out to make his debut and despite words of encouragement, he never quite managed to get over his nervousness and gloved one to backward short leg. He knew there was a fielder in place and could have avoided playing the shot.

Next to go was Tendulkar, who once again fell in the 30s. He seems to get his starts and then suddenly goes nowhere. He started the session with two succession fours but was always troubled by Lyon, who eventually got his man leg-before the wicket.

Dhoni and Jadeja launched a comeback of sorts -- putting on 30 runs -- before the Indian skipper was uncharacteristically dismissed trying to pull the ball off Pattinson. He hit it straight to Watson at midwicket.

But then Jadeja showed his value by slamming a super 43 off 49 balls. He seemed to struggle a little initially but once he found his feet, he unfurled some clasical shots including a lovely late cut. Given how difficult this pitch is starting to play, this innings is worth it's weight in gold. He was eventually unlucky to be given out LBW against Maxwell. He offered no shot to the ball but replays showed that it would miss the off-stump.

The 44-run partnership between Jadeja and Ashwin gave India a huge boost that will show it's true value in the second innings. Ashwin fell soon after to give Lyon his fifth wicket of the innings. He has been superb and why Australia chose to drop him after the first Test will remain a mystery.

India ended the day on 266-8, just 4 runs ahead of Australia. Bhuvneshwar (10) was unbeaten in the middle. The hosts had a 108-run opening partnership but have lost 8 for 158 since then. And things are not going to get easier on Day 3.

Updated Date: Mar 23, 2013 17:20 PM

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