TWIN SPINNERS: The performance of Nathan Lyon (right) helped Steve O'Keefe (left) to his record haul of wickets in the First Test at Pune.
TWIN SPINNERS: The performance of Nathan Lyon (right) helped Steve O'Keefe (left) to his record haul of wickets in the First Test at Pune. Rajanish Kakade

Lyon's performance vital to O'Keefe's results

CRICKET: Darren Lehmann has declared Nathan Lyon's performance in Pune every bit as good as Steve O'Keefe's record-breaking haul.

The Australian coach admits he has put as much pressure on the spinner as anyone and praised Lyon for his resilience and ability to change when the blowtorch was on.

In the wake of the side's disappointing tour of Sri Lanka last year, Lyon was challenged to reinvent his bowling on the subcontinent and in the meantime he endured the most testing summer of his international career, only narrowly avoiding the chop.

O'Keefe's blazing 12-wicket masterclass in Pune dominated headlines, but Lehmann said as coach, he felt Lyon's relentless pressure from the other end was just as important.

Lyon's 4-53 in the second dig was just reward, and combined with O'Keefe's six-for, it marked the first time an Australian spin duo had claimed all 10 wickets in an innings since Shane Warne and Tim May at Edgbaston way back in the Ashes of 1993.

Lehmann endorsed Lyon as his No. 1 spinner for this tour before a ball was bowled, and today (Sunday) the coach felt as though his faith had been paid back in spades after what he described as a "brilliant" performance.

"A 12-for and 6-35 in both innings is pretty special. I actually thought Nathan Lyon bowled just as well to be perfectly honest," said Lehmann.

"Nathan's been under pressure from a lot of sources throughout the subcontinent (period), myself included.

"I thought he was outstanding in this game. He was brilliant. Both spinners did the job, and Stephen was exceptional getting the rewards."

Lehmann also marvelled at the performance of opener Matt Renshaw.

Right up until 48 hours before the first Test, selectors were still contemplating Usman Khawaja as David Warner's opening partner, so scratchy was Renshaw's form in the lead-up.

Renshaw had struggled in the nets and fallen cheaply in the tour game in Mumbai.

But backed in to make his Indian debut, Renshaw responded with two fighting knocks that showed maturity beyond his years.

Lehmann said the 20-year-old was something special.

"The way he played, he hadn't actually hit the ball that well in our lead-up," said Lehmann. "But for some reason when he gets out in the middle, he knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants to do it.

"For a 20-year-old that's pretty special. I think he'll back that up in Bangalore.

"For him to come out obviously crook and to bat in different positions and have a clear plan, especially in the second innings, knowing how he wanted to go about it ... that's good for a young man to have that insight into the game so early."

News Corp Australia


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