South Africa

Ponting picks Lyon as Australia’s ‘massive threat’


‘Maybe they should have’: Ponting dissects key moment

Having watched the way Nathan Lyon worked over and dismissed India’s batting barnacle Cheteshwar Pujara, Test legend Ricky Ponting believes the off-spinner could be a “massive threat” this summer.

Operating from over the wicket, Lyon flighted ball after ball outside the right-hander’s off stump until one spun and bounced to catch the inside edge of his bat to Marnus Labuschagne at leg slip.

Lyon was the only bowler Pujara looked unsure against, having repelled Australia’s four-pronged pace attack for three-and-a-half hours.

Having seen Lyon claim the key scalp of Pujara for 43, Ponting says the veteran spinner could be the major strike weapon against not only India’s No.3 but their entire batting order.

Aussie bowlers take the honours on opening day

“He’s had as much success as any spinner, I think, against India over the years,” Ponting told 

“He’s got Virat Kohli out (in Tests) more than anybody in the history of the game, he looked like he troubled Pujara a lot today. 

“The right-handers now that come out to bat against him – he gets so much over-spin on the ball when you’ve got fielders around the bat – they must feel like they’re going to get out every ball. 

“He builds pressure, he bowls very few bad balls so he’ll be a massive threat for them.”

Lyon finished day one with figures of 1-68 from 21 overs and bowled from what appeared to be wider of the crease than what we’ve previously seen from the 97-Test spinner.

“I think it’s more about trying to challenge both edges of the bat,” Ponting explained.

“When he creates the angle from wide and angles back in, that really only challenges the inside half of the bat and a glove whereas if he can get it out a little bit wider it brings the catch at slip in play, it brings a bat-pad off-side catch into play and if you get the extra bounce, like Pujara’s wicket, you can still get the wicket at leg slip as well.

“Small adjustments, we’re only talking four or six inches, but it has so much more effect.”

Play of the Day: Kohli run out in horror mix-up with Rahane

Lyon could have had Kohli too.

On 16, the India skipper gloved a ball that fizzed down the leg side to rival captain Tim Paine, but neither Lyon nor Paine were convinced Kohli hit it so opted not to review.

Hot Spot technology confirmed ball brushed his glove, and while the Australians should have reviewed it in hindsight, Ponting can see why the hosts decided against it despite having three reviews available.

Kohli spared as Australia fail to review gloved chance

“The more I think about it, with three (reviews) up your sleeve maybe they should have just had a look,” Ponting said. 

“But you could tell straightaway, and even Nathan Lyon’s reaction, if I’m the bowler and I’m bowling to Virat Kohli and I think there’s any chance at all that that was out … I mean, he just walked straight back to his mark. 

“I think Paine goes a bit off the bowler, he would have gone off the close-to-the-wicket fielders but it just looked to me like Nathan Lyon had just dismissed it so quickly that there was no chance it could be out. 

“No doubt it will be a big talking point overnight and no doubt the Aussies will talk about it as well.”

The miss cost the Australians 58 runs before Kohli was run out for 74 in a huge mix up with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane as India finished the day 6-233 having won the toss and elected to bat.

Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj

First Test: December 17-21, Adelaide Oval, 3pm AEDT (day-night)

Second Test: December 26-30, MCG, 10.30am AEDT

Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am AEDT

Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT


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