Australian spinner Nathan Lyon termed India batter Cheteshwar Pujara’s dismissal in the second innings a “massive” moment in the game and lauded his stand-in skipper Steve Smith for taking the catch, saying that he “would not trade him for anyone”. Nathan Lyon’s eight-wicket haul helped Australia skittle out India for 163 runs in the second inning, leaving the visitors just 76 runs away from a win in the third Test here at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Thursday. There is no one Nathan would rather have stood at slip to him than Steve Smith after he pulled off a brilliant catch to dismiss Pujara and leave the visitors confident of a win at the end of the second day of the match.
While Australia worked their way through Indian batting line-up, Pujara stood tall and threatened to leave a target for Aussies that would give Indian spinners a chance. He defied all tactics thrown at him, including a field setting which was leg-side heavy that choked his run-scoring and appeared to have frustrated skipper Rohit Sharma in the dressing room, he was eventually persuaded into flicking at a ball outside leg stump.
Smith showed amazing reflexes, diving low to his right and plucking one of the most astonishing catches of his career, in a series which saw him dropping some easy ones.
“It was massive,” Lyon said as quoted by ESPNCrincinfo.
“To be honest with you, and this is no disrespect to anyone else in the team, but I do not think anyone else is catching it. That’s just me bowling from one end and looking up and seeing Steve Smith at slip or leg slip and having that confidence as a bowler.”
“Yes, he has dropped a couple here and there, but I would not trade him for anyone. It shows the quality of the cricketer he is that we see at training the different methods he is coming up with to try and get better and try and improve. This is someone who has played 95 Test matches.”
“Hats off to Smithy, he did all the work, I am not surprised but it was a massive moment to finish off the day strongly,” concluded Lyon.
Smith enjoyed a brilliant day on-field as a captain, having taken the role in absence of Pat Cummins, who flew back to Australia after the second Test in Delhi due to family health issues. He was extremely proactive and innovative while setting the field and rotated his spinners well.
On second day, he brought back Mitchell Starc at a vital stage after tea when batter Shreyas Iyer was playing some attacking shots and it resulted in batters’ dismissal for 26 after Usman Khawaja caught him at midwicket.
“I have obviously played a lot with Smithy throughout my career, so we are very good mates on and off the field and are able to have some very good cricket conversations. He is one of the best batters in the world, especially over the last decade, the way his brain works with cricket tactics provides me with good conversations.”
“But saying that I thought Pat skippered the game really well last week. We had really good plans under both of them and that is where Australian cricket is in good hands with one of the best bowlers in the world and one of the best batters in the world being our two leaders,” added Lyon.
India could only bat for 60.3 overs in the second innings of the third Test, with Pujara waging a lone battle for the hosts before a rampant Nathan Lyon took eight wickets for just 64 runs.
The hosts resumed their innings on 79/4 after Tea with Cheteshwar Pujara on 36* and Shreyas Iyer still to open his account, trailing by 9 runs.
India started the session positively with Iyer smashing a six while Pujara whipped the ball for a boundary off Matthew Kuhnemann in the second over after lunch.
Iyer took the attack to the Aussie bowlers, putting them under pressure with aggressive shots turning the momentum towards the host.
The right-hander clubbed Nathan Lyon for two consecutive boundaries and launched Kuhnemann for a thunderous six over mid-wicket and a boundary in the next over, bringing the Aussie bowlers under the pump.
Pujara and Iyer were flourishing in the third session but Steve Smith brought Mitchell Starc into the attack after Kuhnemann leaked runs.
The move worked wonders for the visitors as the pacer was able to get rid of Iyer. The right-hand batter played an aerial shot towards mid-wicket but Usman Khawaja pocketed a brilliant catch to draw curtains on the batter’s innings.
Iyer played a quick-fire cameo of 26 from 27 balls, stitching a 35 run-stand with Pujara for the fifth wicket.
Srikar Bharat followed cheaply adding just three runs to the total. Lyon bowled a peach to beat the batter’s outside edge and hit the top of the off-stump dismissing him for 3(8).
Ravichandran Ashwin and Pujara did provide resilience to the visitor’s rampant attack to stitch a 22-run-stand for the seventh wicket.
India’s crisis man Pujara brought up his half-century, waging a lone battle against the Aussie bowlers, holding up one end.
However, the wickets continued to fumble and Ashwin fell to Lyon for 16(28). The wicket brought up the spinner’s fifer in the second inning, reducing India to 140/7.
A freak catch from Steve Smith saw the back of Pujara after a superb knock from the Saurashtra batter. The right-hander played a resilient knock of 59 runs.
It was one-way traffic from thereon as the hosts lost their last two wickets inside eight runs. The Aussie bowlers bundled out the hosts for 163 runs, needing 76 runs in the second innings for the victory.
Nathan Lyon registered his best figures in India scalping eight Indian batsmen and giving away just 64 runs.
Earlier at Tea, India lost four wickets for 79 runs in second innings going into Tea trailing Australia by 9 runs with six wickets in hand here at the Holkar Cricket Stadium.
Resuming post-lunch session at 13/0 India lost their first wicket in the form of opener Shubman Gill as the youngster was cleaned up by
Nathan Lyon for 5. Hosts lost their first wicket for 15.Cheteshwar Pujara joined his skipper Rohit Sharma and the duo batted defensively but the other opener too became Lyon’s victim dismissing him leg before wicket for 12 to leave India in a spot of bother at 32/2.
Virat Kohli then joined Pujara and the duo helped India cross the 50-run mark but the 22-run partnership did not last long as Virat Kohli was dismissed by leg before wicket by Matthew Kuhnemann for 13.
Ravindra Jadeja walked out to bat with his Saurashtra teammate Pujara and the duo batted consciously in order to reduce the deficit. But Lyon struck for the third time dismissing southpaw Jadeja leg before wicket for 7 to leave India tottering at 78/4.
India went into Tea at 79/4 trailing Australia by 9 runs and six wickets in hand with Pujara batting on 36 and Shreyas Iyer batting on 0.
Earlier resuming day-2 at 156/4 Australian batters Peter Handscomb and Cameron Green batted sensibly and took their team’s first innings lead beyond the 50-run mark.
The Handscomb-Green partnership was taking the game away from the hosts. They desperately needed a wicket and Ravichandran Ashwin did exactly that dismissing Handscomb caught in the short leg by Shreyas Iyer for 19 breaking the 40-run partnership at 186.
Handscomb’s wicket opened the floodgates for India as they ran through Australian batting line-up. Pacer Umesh Yadav dismissed Cameron Green for 21 leg before wicket as Australia lost their sixth wicket for 188.
The Nagpur lad struck again in his next over cleaning Mitchell Starc for 1. Starc became Umesh’s 100th Test victim for Umesh on Indian soil. The pacer achieved this milestone in 31 matches to leave Australia tottering at 192/7.
India struck again in the space of four balls as Ashwin dismissed Alex Carey leg before wicket for 3 to leave Australia at 196/8.
Umesh Yadav looked unstoppable as he got his third wicket in the match dismissing Todd Murphy for a duck rattling his stumps to reduce Australia to 197/9.
Ashwin cleaned up Australia’s innings dismissing Nathan Lyon for 5 to bowl out visitors for 197 taking an 88-run lead in the first innings.
Brief Scores: India: 109/10 in 33.2 overs in 1st inns (Virat Kohli 22, Shubman Gill 21, Matthew Kuhnemann 5-16), Australia: 197/10 in 76.3 overs in 1st inns (Usman Khawaja 60, Marnus Labuschagne 31, Ravindra Jadeja 4-78, Umesh Yadav 3-12, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-44); India 163 (Cheteshwar Pujara 59; Nathan Lyon 8-64).
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