Nathan Lyon, unlike R Ashwin, is constantly evolving to be ahead of batsmen

Srikar Bharat’s wicket at Indore, when he knocked the off stump from around the stumps, was the easiest wicket, but it captured Nathan Lyon’s evolution.

Bharat had been caught LBW by off-breaks up until that point in the series because he would thrust his front foot way down the field and then be unable to bring the bat around the front pad.

Bharat had made the adjustment that many batsmen make in that innings: Take a leg-stump guard and try to press the front leg straight down the field. Try to stay close to the line so the front leg doesn’t go too far across, which could lead to an LBW.

With Lyon present, it would not have been successful. He didn’t have the straighter one, the drifter with the angle, early in his career, so he had to work on it.

Lyon had chosen his weapon very early in the fight when he saw Bharat’s setup at the crease. The drifter came out, Bharat’s front foot went straighter and not across, and when it landed, the ball didn’t seem to have much room to move.

However, it pinged the off-stump and squeezed past the bat’s foot. An armchair dismissal, to put it another way—simple, effective, but difficult to execute on the field from behind the stumps against a right-handed batsman.

Bharat would be forced to come up with a better strategy as a result, and in the most recent Test, on a flat track, he would respond with an off-stump guard. Because of the straightforward and applicable solutions that Lyon frequently proposes, that dismissal remained in my mind. Even watching the two Rohit Sharma LBW firings was fascinating.

In previous games in the Indian Premier League, Rohit and Ravichandran Ashwin shared similar difficulties; Ashwin would go around the stumps and inspire one to divert in from the center stump to trap him LBW. For reasons unknown, Rohit has had an issue perusing the length of top-notch off-spinners.

The trajectory of Ashwin’s load-ups can be misleading, indicating that the length may be shorter than it actually is. On numerous occasions, Usman Khawaja would squeeze back to balls that he might have inclined forward on the level track at Ahmedabad however the gradualness of the track implied he could deal with it without harm.

Even Rohit, who was almost frozen at first, was unable to choose Lyon’s length, pressing back in a panic at the last moment to try to play it off the pitch, but the turners prevented him from doing so.

Rohit would lose control of his top hand, which controls the downward bat swing’s direction, and flail it across the line in vain as it would explode on the middle stump line. It’s not that he tried to play it so squarely as the result suggests; however, once panic sets in, the head falls over, and the bottom hand takes over, a batsman can get away with a lot of it very quickly. Rohit became frightened as a result of Lyon.

Because of its repeatability and ease of viewing, Lyon’s artwork sometimes received less acclaim than it did in the past.

He has a long run-up that starts out with a lot of energy but ends abruptly after a few steps. It would turn into a walk quickly and smoothly, and in earlier times, particularly when crossing the stumps, his right leg would kick up so high and swivel to the right as though he were opening a door with his thighs. He would be perfectly side-on after executing that move, and then he would pivot with a lot of energy and throw his body into the action.

The leg doesn’t kick as high as it used to, and energy seems to be saved more often these days. We don’t yet know if this is because of age or a new method, but the other parts have mostly stayed the same.

He had mentioned during the most recent tour of India that he had observed Ashwin play in India and had begun to combine his natural strength of over-spin with side-spin. His 482-wicket haul at 31.23 is remarkable for an off-spinner who mostly plays in Australia.

It’s even more remarkable for a man who had the unenviable task of taking over for Shane Warne because of the immense pressure.

The spirit of his craft is different from Ashwin’s. The batsmen are entangled in tangents from which they are unable to emerge in time, which is Ashwin’s art. Ashwin’s conveyances are developed for what a batsman could do, custom fitted to test the expected reaction, focusing on their hands, in a manner of speaking, rather than a pre-manufactured logic.

The opposite end of the spectrum is Lyon. The loopy drifter outside off on a length is his standard ball, which he bowls tirelessly. It draws the batsman forward before abruptly dropping, turning, and bouncing.

With the weighted drop, turn, and bounce, Lyon aims to upset the batsmen’s balance at the crease. He uses a middle-stump line from around the stumps in India to get it to turn into the middle and leg or drift away depending on the angle.

Lyon is always on the stumps in India, necessitating batsmen to play every ball. He would get them stretching outside off in Australia, where there was less turn but more bounce.

The rise of Lyon has a well-documented history: from being an apprentice curator to having more self-assurance, but the doubts are what fascinate.

When he took his 200th Test wicket in Sri Lanka in 2016, there was no high in him. He would admit during media briefings from coach Darren Lehmann and captain Steve Smith that the series would end in a 0-3 loss.

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