Nathan Lyon-inspired Australia closes in on win in third Test at Indore


A classic spell from star spinner Nathan Lyon has Australia poised to break through and defeat India in the third Test in Indore.

Australia will chase just 76 to win on a sharply-turning and deteriorating pitch at Holkar Stadium after dismissing the hosts for 163 in their second innings.

Lyon finished with 8-64 to claim the fourth 10-wicket Test match haul of his career after picking up 3-35 in the first innings.

The 35-year-old has fought back in outstanding fashion after a disappointing opening Test of the Border-Gavaskar series in Nagpur when he went for 1-126.

It was Lyon’s 23rd five-wicket haul, backing up his 5-67 during the second Test in Delhi when he bowled arguably the best he had in his 118-match career.

India’s No.3 Cheteshwar Pujara, so often Australia’s nemesis, was delivering a typically stoic knock to keep India in the contest.

A chase of anything more than 100 was always going to be tricky on a pitch that has already come under intense criticism, and Pujara appeared to be taking India there.

The hosts were fighting hard at 7-155, but Australia took complete control when acting captain Steve Smith hung onto a brilliant catch to dismiss Pujara (59) off Lyon’s bowling.

Smith has had troubles with a degenerative back issue this year, putting down a number of catches in slips during this series, but he hung onto a classic.

It would be a famous victory if Australia chases down the runs after they were humiliated in Nagpur and Delhi, falling 0-2 behind in the series, and captain Pat Cummins returned to Sydney to be with his ill mother.

After starting day two with a lead of 47 and six wickets still in hand, Australia’s batting capitulated for the third-straight match to leave the door open for India.

They extended their first-innings lead to 88 but suffered another monumental collapse to be all-out for 197.

In-form No.5 Peter Handscomb and allrounder Cameron Green batted for the entire first hour after the tourists began day two at 4-156.

The watchful pair added another 30 runs to enhance Australia’s prospects of securing their first Test victory in India since the opening match of the 2017 series.

However, India came out of the drinks break breathing fire, skittling Australia’s brittle tail as the tourists collapsed by losing 6-11 in 35 minutes.

After being rolled for just 109 on Wednesday when it won the toss and elected to bat first, India batted for about 15 minutes before lunch and got to 0-13 in its second innings, cutting Australia’s lead to 75.

Thursday’s collapse brought back memories of Australia’s loss to India in Bangalore in 2017 when it fell from 4-101 to 112 all out chasing 188 in the fourth innings.

Australia is coming off its extraordinary collapse in the second Test in Delhi when it capitulated by losing 8-28 in 90 minutes when it was in a winning position.

Umesh Yadav (3-12) claimed the first wicket by a pace bowler in the match when he trapped Green (21) lbw.

Australia’s tail then folded meekly just as it did during the first two Tests.

Jadeja finished with 4-78, with all of his wickets coming on day one when Usman Khawaja top scored for Australia with a resilient 60.


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