Summer of celebration not panning out as hoped for Lyon

India is playing the party pooper in Nathan Lyon's summer of celebration but the champion spinner still has the chance to be Australia's hero. Time, however, is running out.

When this heavyweight series started a month ago, few imagined Australia would be having this much trouble breaking a Virat Kohli-less India, and even fewer could have foreseen such a long wait for Lyon's milestone 400th wicket.

The wait continues for Nathan Lyon’s 400th Test wicket.Credit:AP

Australian fans have become accustomed to seeing the man dubbed GOAT (greatest of all time) flourishing at home but a well organised adversary and more than a slice of misfortune have conspired against him.

Lyon's hopes of being the hero in Sydney were foiled by his captain grassing two chances from Rishabh Pant early in his counter-attacking innings, denying him an earlier crack at India's lower order. Having five catches put down has also made life unnecessarily difficult.

India's batsmen are not comfortable against pace and bounce but they grow up against spin. Even Shane Warne battled against India, against whom his average of 47 was almost double his career mark.

Lyon's numbers, with seven wickets at 59 this series, are jarring but he has bowled better than that, according to Warne. Lyon's Shield campaign was also modest, with nine wickets at 44 on Adelaide's unresponsive tracks.

Statistically, it is his worst series at home since 2016/17 when he came perilously close to being dumped for state teammate Stephen O'Keefe, Australia's No.2 spinner for much of Steve Smith's reign as captain.

Lyon is in no danger though only he knows what impact the lack of competition is having on his performance.

One noticeable difference in Lyon's game has been the lack of drift in his bowling. Only once since 2015 has Lyon averaged less than the 1.46 degrees of drift of this series, according to the analysts at CricViz.

At his best, Lyon imparts such energy on the ball that it curves towards slip before spinning back sharply.

The drift allows Lyon to challenges both edges, bringing slip into play and the close catchers on the leg side for the bat pad.

Warne and Michael Hussey, who bestowed Lyon with songmaster duties when he retired, said the spinner had struggled with his lengths.

Opponents know not to get on the front foot to Lyon, wary of the extra bounce he generates from his overspin which can catch their gloves or the shoulder of their bat, but this requires him to pitch up.

"I think he's bowled pretty well through this series and the numbers don't quite reflect quite how well he's bowled," Warne said on Fox Cricket.

"I don't think he's been at his best today. I think he's bowled a bit too full or too short, just given a little bit of width at times."

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