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“They Are Not Lower-Order Batters…”: Australia Star Lauds Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin’s Show

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Had Nathan Lyon been an India skipper, he would have issued a quick rebuttal if someone had dared to refer Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin as lower-order batters. On an interesting second day, Ashwin (37) and Axar (74) added 114 runs for the eighth wicket after India had slumped to 139/7, with Lyon taking his 22nd five-wicket haul in Test cricket. The Australian spinner complimented the two India players for their gritty batting display, saying the duo could easily bat at No.6 for any Test-playing team.

“They are not lower-order (batters). Let’s get that clear. Axar and Ash could easily bat in the top-six in a few teams in Test cricket around the world in my eyes. They (India) have a very long top order, let’s just say that,” said Lyon.

Thanks to the efforts of Axar and Ashwin, India kept Australia’s first-innings lead down to just one run. Australia have started aggressively in their second innings scoring 61/1, but Lyon said he will not get into any target setting at the moment.

“I’m not going to give you a number. Whatever we get we have to make sure it’s enough. That’s the mentality we need to do (go with); we need to come here tomorrow and be really brave.” Travis Head has come out all guns blazing scoring 39 in quick time and Lyon said he trusts his team-mate’s aggressive methods.

“We need to trust the guys’ methods when they have the support of the whole change room to go out there and play the way they want to play and the way they think they can combat the quality bowling India have. Whatever we set, we have just got to make sure it’s enough.” Lyon said the more bounce he could extract from the Ferozeshah Kotla track had helped him immensely.

“There is (a) lot more bounce in Delhi compared to Nagpur, which I obviously like to exploit.” Lyon got all his five wickets — his second five-for in Delhi after the 2013-14 series — from the Old Pavilion End, as the cracks created at the Ambedkar Stadium End helped in generating uneven bounce.

“Bowling around the wicket in this game, I’m still trying to target off stump. That’s my goal. If you understand cricket, you will understand what I am trying to do and trying to get them defending because we know how good the Indian batters are. If I can make them defend, hopefully, I’ll create a few chances here and there.”

Lyon happy to be a party-spoiler

Lyon used his stock ball, the off-break, to breach Cheteshwar Pujara‘s defence and the Australian was happy to be a party-spoiler in India No. 3’s 100th game.

“Well, Gabba was my 100th Test,” he said with a cheeky smile. “I know it is his 100th Test. Fairytales don’t come the way (you) like. But over the years, I have had some unbelievable battles with Pujara. It’s been pretty amazing.”

All praise for Head’s approach

Lyon praised Head for his proactive approach and how he opened the second innings on a tricky, if not treacherous, second-day track after being overlooked for the opening game in Nagpur.

“I am quite close with Trav (Travis Head), there is no secret with that. I did reach out to him (when Head was not included in the XI in Nagpur). I did see if he was ok. It (getting dropped) can be a challenging time.” What Lyon loves about Head is how good a team man he is.

“Trav being Trav and what I love about him, he always looks at the positives. He always wants to do the right role for the team in his best way.

“He was extremely confident coming into this game and that’s the Trav I love. I’m really happy to see him out there competing the way he is at the moment. I thought he was absolutely exceptional.”

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