Hunted Lyon backs himself to turn it around

The 26-year-old, who worked with Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan in the lead-up to prepare for the slow pitches in the United Arab Emirates, managed three wickets from the 2-0 series defeat to Pakistan, each coming at a cost of 140.

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66 runs.

Although hardly the sole culprit in the Australian attack — paceman Peter Siddle managed two wickets at 108.50 runs apiece — Lyon has found himself again defending his status as Australia’s lead spinner, a position he has become all-too-familiar with over a 35-test career.

Returning to home pitches would usually offer some comfort, but Lyon faces a further test against batsmen undaunted by spin when Australia take on India in a four-test series starting next month.

“You’re always under pressure,” the off-spinner told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

“You’re playing international cricket at the highest level so if people aren’t putting you under pressure you aren’t improving.

“It’s about how you handle that and how you bounce back.

“I’m confident in my skill to get the job done no matter what. It’s unfortunate it didn’t happen in Abu Dhabi and Dubai but you have to pay credit to (Pakistan’s) spin bowling.”

Lyon toasted his 100th wicket during Australia’s 5-0 whitewash of England in the last home summer, a hard-earned triumph after being discarded during Australia’s 4-0 defeat away to India earlier in the year.

The joys of the Ashes might feel like distant memories for Lyon, who managed eight wickets at an average of 39 in his team’s 2-1 win over South Africa.

Even before the Pakistan series, Lyon was under pressure from coach Darren Lehmann, who complained in September that his premier spinner had failed to do the business in second inning spells to drive his team to victory.

Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne also chimed in this week saying Lyon had made changes to his bowling that had proven ineffective in the Middle East.

Amid the critiques, Australian media have latched onto encouraging performances by leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, named man-of-the-match in his third T20 international against South Africa in Melbourne on Friday.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O’Brien)