Nathan Lyon’s match figures of 4 for 244 in the first Test didn’t make for pretty reading.
The Aussie off‐spinner was the major casualty as a cyclonic MS Dhoni ripped through Chennai on his way to a memorable double century.
Despite his expensive figures, Lyon will be in the XI for the second Test starting on Saturday.
Australia’s selectors will have to swallow their pride and opt for more spin in Hyderabad, with Xavier Doherty and possibly Glenn Maxwell to come into consideration.
As for the incumbent spinner, he has just three days to regain his confidence and re‐think his plan of attack.
A clue to where Lyon went wrong in Chennai can be found in the scoring zones of India’s batsmen.
Of the 215 runs Lyon conceded in India’s first innings, 42 were behind square on the leg side. While that doesn’t sound like many, the 30 singles and six twos scored in that area reveal the root of the problem.
It shows that Lyon often bowled far too straight, angling the ball into India’s right‐handers and spinning it even further towards the leg side.
With Michael Clarke rarely employing a fielder in the ring at square leg, the angle Lyon bowled allowed India’s batsmen to simply help the ball around the corner for a pressure‐relieving single.
If these tactics continue in Hyderabad, Lyon’s fortunes will be just as grim as they were in the first Test.
In addition to employing a single‐saving fielder at square leg, Lyon needs to change his approach at the crease.
Bowling a much wider line outside off stump will force India’s batsmen to reach for the ball and either play against the spin through the off side or play across the line. Bowling well wide of the stumps will also bring the footmarks into play, creating more doubt in the batsman’s mind.
India’s boundary‐hungry batsmen hate to be tied down and facing this wide line will force them to chance their arm to feel bat on ball.
Bowling a wider line brings with it’s own risks; Lyon conceded eight boundaries and a massive six through cover and mid‐off in Chennai. But the more often India’s batsmen are forced to reach outside off stump and play against the spin, the more likely they are to make a mistake.
Lyon needs to show some patience, bowl a wide line and let the surface do the rest.
Another option Lyon should adopt is changing the angle completely and bowling outside off stump from around the wicket. Lyon barely bowled around the wicket to the right‐handers in Chennai, which was extraordinary given the number of overs he bowled and the punishment he received.
There is no doubt Lyon faces a tough job on this tour against batsmen who treat spin bowlers with disdain. But with a slight re‐think of tactics, some help from his skipper and support from his fellow spinners, he can put in an improved performance in Hyderabad.