Explained: Lyon vs Kohli-Pujara and the danger of going backwards or pushing forward

Written by Sriram Veera | Mumbai |

17 Dec 2020 9:47:58 p.m.

adelaide test, test series australia india adelaide, virat kohli nathan lyon, cheteshwar pujara, pujara kohli, pujaraVirat Kohli picks up his baton after 50 runs against Australia during their test cricket match at the Adelaide Oval in Australia (AP / PTI)

There are a couple of questions that are often asked when bats struggle to face former Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon. Why don’t the bats go back and work the ball behind a square? Why not push forward to damage the spinning? The answer is simple: He will not let them.

When bats think of going backwards, the ball ascends and turns unsteadily. This makes them feel like they can’t wake up or throw past waiting palms at the short back leg and the squarish-short leg that Lyon regularly uses.

When pushed forward, as Cheteshwar tried Pujara and having failed on the first day of the Adelaide Test, the ball rises up on them. It provokes self-doubts about getting on the surface of the kick and they have to suffocate: “Damn that overspin”.

How did Pujara problem level increase?

It was interesting to see the feeling of hope, optimism and anticipation that Lyon got into after dropping the ball towards Pujara. Not that India was No. 3 struggling, but the challenges it was trying to overcome were getting steeper in the moment. Pujara would later discuss how Lyon has augmented “the revolutions” on the ball these days, which has given bats more questions.

The ball that Pujara got had the extra tweak. His first move to oppose the ball was to try to get ahead. But Lyon have the skill to control the airline of deliveries. It does not allow the ball to hang in the air for too long, especially on tracks like this. This one fell off very quickly.

Pujara felt he wasn’t going to get close to the ball park, despite his plans to start on. So he stopped. Now, the challenge was to keep his balance. He tried to make tiny movements. The ball began to climb, and Pujara was caught in the shower. His instinct was to somehow remove the bat. He tried to throw the stick between his legs and hoped the ball would break away from the edge. That was not going to be.

Ravichandran Ashwin has talked about the kind of balls that give the edge. “People think it’s the break that the inner edges get. Not always (so). That’s the angle from which you sometimes output. The batsmen try to push or defend down the line, but the ball goes in at an angle, and takes the edge in. ” That’s what happened here too, a sharp turn would have meant a jailbreak for Pujara.

If he is having trouble pushing forward, how about going backwards?

Both Pujara and Virat Kohli tried that tactic. However, the extra kick, parallel to a turn, did not allow them to ride when pushed back. Back in the day, equally talented Pakistani fighter Mohammad Azharuddin and Pakistani batsman Saleem Malik would pull back straight back, open up a bit, and lift the ball to strong between the short leg and the short leg back. The current generation may not have the supple expectations and confidence. 📣 Follow Express explained on Telegram

Why is Kohli better suited to go against Lyon?

On his first day in Adelaide, Kohli was better than Pujara in dealing with Lyon. His game is well suited to take on this tough challenge. The angle at which the bat comes down helps and he also trusts his hands to sail well ahead of his pads, unlike most of his players. His slender lower arm and the angle with which he comes across allow the ball to work to the midwicket, which he does a lot.

Unlike Pujara, Kohli rarely allowed himself to be caught at the crematorium. Again and again, he continued but his game allows him to deal with the pair threatening kick and turn, especially on the opening day field.

Even though the ball is climbing, as Kohli lets his hands go, the point where he meets the ball isn’t terribly scary. In fact, there is a risk that the inner edge will fall into the hands of nearby rangers. That’s why not many people take that bait and someone like Pujara prefers to wait for the member to come to him. Only those with a high body are as elastic as Kevin Pietersen and Younis Khan, who may continue so far and reach areas inaccessible to others.

Kohli is a very self-conscious and ego-less batsman in that regard. And so, he kept pushing forward and working the ball to the outside. Pujara did his thing too, and Lyon did too. All three were sticking to it. Lyon kept waiting for something, looking for something, Pujara was sorting out hope by the way, Kohli trusted his defensive game. This was playtime that spreads relaxation and eager anticipation.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For the latest news explained, download Indian Express App.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd.