The Border Gavaskar Trophy has been the battleground of many rivalries. Tendulkar vs Warne, Tendulkar vs McGrath, the one-upmanship between Sourav Ganguly and Steve Waugh, and now two modern-day greats Steve Smith and Virat Kohli crossing swords – the list is long. The latest addition to the illustrated list has been the battle between the pace batteries of Australia and India.
But one battle that has quietly evaded eyes is between the two premier spin wizards – Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon.
The Overlooked Battle - R Ashwin vs Nathan Lyon
Over the last year, debates ensued in multiple forums over which player is superior in the longest format of the game. With ICC choosing Ashwin in the test team of the decade, the debates have started again and for good reasons.
Nathan Lyon: A Constant Thorn in the Path of the Indian Team
Nathan Lyon has often troubled the Indian batsmen who are traditionally known as better players of spin bowling. The pillars of Indian middle order – Pujara, Kohli and Rahane has been dismissed by Lyon 10,7, and 9 times respectively.
In the last Border Gavaskar Trophy in India in 2017, Lyon grabbed 19 wickets at an average just above 25 which included a career best 8-wicket haul. In the 2018-19 Border Gavaskar Trophy, Lyon was the highest Australian wicket taker with 21 wickets despite the presence of their premier fast bowlers.
Ashwin on Redemption: India's Trumpcard in Australia
Ravi Ashwin, often criticized for not replicating his home dominance overseas, primarily in the SENA countries, has emerged as one of India's key weapons in the ongoing series. He got rid of the big fishes of the Aussie batting line up - Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne - a couple of times in the last two tests.
In Steve Smith’s own words, he has been dominated by Ashwin. And judging by Smith's past records, this has been nothing short of a stellar achievement for Ashwin.
While R Ashwin was a key architect in both of the last two India’s Border Gavaskar Trophy wins over the Kangaroos in India by taking 50 wickets in 8 tests at just over 23 average, his first Australia tour was forgettable with 9 wickets in 3 tests at over 62.
R Ashwin redeemed himself four years later on his tour next Down Under. He played a key role in India’s victory at the Adelaide Oval by snaring 6 wickets in the match, 5 of which were of top- and middle-order batsmen. David Warner will have his work cut out against Ashwin, courtesy of the latter's brilliant record against left-handers. Warner, particularly, has lost his wicket to Ashwin a record 9 times.
The Much Anticipated Showdown in Sydney:
Ahead of the third test at Sydney, which has traditionally been spinner-friendly, where the likes of Kumble and Prasanna wove their magic against the Aussies, India can pin their hopes on their spintwins Ashwin and Jadeja to replicate the remarkable success they've displayed time and again at home.
Meanwhile, Australia will hope Lyon can pull out a trick or two to trouble the Indian batsmen, something he has done successfully in the past.
The Ashwin-Lyon rivalry looks hot. Neither spinner is showing any signs of slowing down. Rather, both look hungry to add more arsenal to their already shining armory. And cricket fans must be licking their lips.Published 07 Jan 2021, 08:27 IST