Lyon eight-for gives Australia hope in third India Test

Australia's players congratulate their teammate Nathan Lyon (3L) after he took eight wickets at the end of the second day play of the third Test cricket match between India and Australia at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on 2 March 2023.AFP

Nathan Lyon took eight wickets on Thursday to give Australia hope of beating India in the third Test -- provided they can avoid another calamitous batting collapse.

On a dramatic day two in Indore, Australia's batting imploded in their first innings only for them to fight back and restrict India in their second to 163, giving them a victory target of 76.

Cheteshwar Pujara top-scored with 59, caught brilliantly at slip by Australia captain Steve Smith, with Lyon taking figures of 8-64 on a treacherous spinning wicket.

Having skittled India for just 109 on day one, Australia resumed on 156-4 but collapsed to 197 all out before lunch, their last six wickets tumbling for just 11 runs.

Cameron Green and Peter Handscomb survived the first hour on a pitch with unpredictable bounce, the tall Green using his long stride to neutralise India's spin attack.

Australia's Nathan Lyon acknowledges the spectators after taking eight wickets during the second day of the third Test cricket match between India and Australia at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on 2 March 2023.

But after the drinks break, Handscomb departed for 19, caught by Shreyas Iyer at short leg off Ravichandran Ashwin, and then Green was trapped lbw by seamer Umesh Yadav for 21.

The house of cards then quickly collapsed, with Umesh bowling Mitchell Starc for one, sending the left-hander's off stump cartwheeling towards wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat.

Alex Carey went for three, lbw to Ashwin, seamer Umesh bowled Todd Murphy for a duck and Lyon was cleaned up by Ashwin for five.

Ashwin took 3-44 and Umesh 3-12.

Lyon roars

India sensed their chance and openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill survived a tricky 10 minutes before lunch.

But after the break, Gill was beaten for spin as he tried to go down the track against Lyon and was bowled for five, before the spinner trapped skipper Rohit for 12.

Virat Kohli looked to take on Matthew Kuhnemann, who took five wickets in the first innings, cutting the spinner for a glorious four, only to be dismissed lbw the following ball for 13.

This sent a hush around the rowdy Indore ground but Pujara gave the home crowd something to cheer about, reducing the deficit by smashing Kuhnemann for a succession of boundaries.

India's players celebrate the dismissal of Australia's Nathan Lyon (unseen) during the second day of the third Test cricket match between India and Australia at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on 2 March 2023.

Lyon though proved a handful, particularly for Ravindra Jadeja, who was out lbw for seven just before the break to leave India reeling.

In the final session, Iyer made an entertaining 26 that included two sixes before an excellent catch by Usman Khawaja at short midwicket off Starc.

Bharat was bowled by Lyon for three and Ashwin fell for 16, lbw to Lyon for his fifth scalp.

Pujara made the Australians work hard before captain Smith took a diving catch to his right at slip off the bowling of Lyon.

The very next ball Umesh was given out lbw off Lyon but was reprieved on review. The ball after that, Umesh slogged to the boundary -- where he was caught just inside the rope by Green.

Soon afterwards, Lyon clean-bowled Mohammed Siraj to give the Australian his eighth scalp, and the hapless Indian number 11 his second duck of the match.

'Anything could happen' 

Umesh said afterwards that India would try to be "positive" and secure what would be a stunning victory to take a 3-0 lead in the four-Test series.

"It's cricket and anything could happen," Umesh told reporters.

"We will try to bowl tight and bowl them out soon. The wicket is not easy and scoring runs is difficult. It's not easy to step out and hit as the bounce is low."

Lyon said his performance was "up there as one of my career highlights" but that he was "more proud about our group".

"Personal success is great to have but after (the second Test defeat in) Delhi we had a couple of really good days off as a team, and really good conversations at training," Lyon said.

He also paid tribute to his "very good mate" Smith, who was captaining the side in place of Pat Cummins who went back to Australia to be with his ill mother.

"(Smith) 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," Lyon said.