Questioned over his tactics and under pressure to deliver, Nathan Lyon responded emphatically by claiming the key wicket of Virat Kohli in the first Test against India.
Lyon made the much-needed breakthrough in the fourth-last over of play on Saturday before India went to stumps at 3-151, leading Australia by 166 runs.
India’s skipper looked well set before being caught on 34 by Aaron Finch at short leg off a superb dipping delivery by Lyon.
It was a bright ending to a frustrating day for Lyon in which he was foiled by the Decision Review System (DRS) and criticised by spin king Shane Warne.
First-innings centurion Cheteshwar Pujara was twice given out to Lyon but had both dismissals overturned on review and survived to be unbeaten on 40 at stumps.
Pujara was given out caught behind on eight but the Hot Spot technology showed no contact with bat or gloves.
He then had another reprieve on 17 when given out lbw after failing to offer a shot to a ball which turned into the right-hander.
The DRS confirmed the delivery was tracking over the bails.
Pujara’s frequent padding away of Lyon’s deliveries left Warne bemused about the offspinner’s lack of a close-in fielder on the off side.
“I think he’s got his tactics wrong and not had a bat-pad on the off side, especially to Pujara,” Warne said while commentating on Fox Sports.
“He’s just bowling the odd one too straight, letting the batsmen off the hook.
“I thought (Indian offspinner Ravichandran) Ashwin created more confusion and more headaches because of the line he bowled … he encouraged the drive.
“I think when Nathan Lyon doesn’t bowl at his best, he generally bowls a bit too straight. That’s his weakness … (his) fear of being driven through the covers.”
Lyon was briefly taken out of the attack in favour of part-time spinner Travis Head, who went for 13 off his two overs.
But it wasn’t long before Lyon returned and struck for Australia, continuing his love affair with what has been one of his happiest hunting grounds.
“I think he’s bowled exceptionally well all game,” Head said of Lyon.
“He probably hasn’t got the reward he would have liked but it can change very, very quickly.
“I think if he can get in a rhythm now we’ve broken that partnership in the morning, I think he’s going to be key going into the new ball.”