Guyanese left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie ended 2023 with the best match figures in Test cricket with his 13-99 against Zimbabwe in February in Bulawayo.

The 28-year-old took figures of 7-37 from 14.5 overs in the first innings and 6-62 from 17.3 overs in the second innings to set up an innings and four-run victory for the Windies.

Motie also took six wickets in the first match of the two-match series to finish with 19 in total, being named Player of the Series in the process.

Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had the second-best match figures of 2023 with his 12-131 against the West Indies in Dominica in July while Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon was third with his 11-99 against India in Indore in March.

 

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon has become the eighth man to take 500 Test wickets after reaching the major milestone against Pakistan.

The 36-year-old trapped Faheem Ashraf leg before wicket after a review in Perth to reach his personal landmark on day four of the first Test as the hosts cruised to a 360-run victory.

Lyon, whose achievement was delayed by injury during last summer’s Ashes series, is the third Australian to reach the mark, following in the footsteps of the late Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

 

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Only Muttiah Muralitharan, who leads the way with a remarkable 800, Warne, James Anderson, Anil Kumble, Stuart Broad, McGrath and Courtney Walsh have claimed more Test scalps.

Lyon told Channel 7: “It’s something I’m very proud about. Firstly, to take 500, it’s a bloody big milestone. I still pinch myself when I see my name next to those guys – well not even next, below those guys in my eyes.

“Shane Warne is the greatest to ever play this game in my opinion, and Glenn McGrath’s record speaks volumes, doesn’t it? So to edge closer to those guys, it’s something that I’m proud of.”

Lyon’s big moment arrived at the start of the 28th over of Pakistan’s second innings when he rapped Faheem’s pads, but saw concerted appeals turned down by umpire Richard Illingworth.

However, the Australians opted to review and were belatedly given the verdict they craved by TV umpire Michael Gough with the ball shown to be hitting leg stump.

Faheem’s departure left Pakistan on 79 for seven and Lyon also accounted for Aamer Jamal as they slumped to 89 all out.

The right-armer, who made an instant impact on his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2011 when he dismissed Kumar Sangakkara with his first ball, finished with match figures of five for 80.

Nathan Lyon’s chances of playing any further part in the Ashes look slim after Cricket Australia confirmed he had suffered a “significant” calf strain.

Lyon had arrived on the third morning at Lord’s on crutches after he had to be helped off the pitch on Thursday evening after pulling up with a calf problem during his fielding stint in the deep.

The Australia spinner, playing his 100th consecutive Test, looked distraught as he hobbled around the boundary edge and, when he joined his team-mates at the ground on Friday morning, his reliance on crutches raised alarm bells over his chances of being fit for the last three Tests of the series.

A Cricket Australia spokesperson said: “Nathan Lyon has been diagnosed with a significant calf strain. He will require a period of rehabilitation after this match is concluded.

“A decision regarding his availability for the remainder of the series will be made at the conclusion of the game.”

Lyon had a scan on Thursday night before a further assessment took place ahead of day three getting under way, but no grading has been attached to his calf strain.

Australia centurion Steve Smith admitted Nathan Lyon’s calf injury does not look good with the tourists’ braced to play the rest of the second Ashes Test without their frontline spinner.

Lyon injured his right calf while trying to make up ground to catch Ben Duckett’s lofted pull shot off Cameron Green in the 37th over of England’s innings.

The sight of Lyon holding the back of his calf and being forced to hobble off the pitch brought back memories of Glenn McGrath’s busted ankle on the eve of the second Ashes Test in the 2005 series.

A Cricket Australia spokesperson later confirmed Lyon was being assessed and while no scan has been booked, his chances of featuring in the rest of the Lord’s Test look over and his whole series could even be in doubt.

“Yeah, I haven’t been up in the sheds yet but obviously it didn’t look good,” Smith conceded.

“I mean it doesn’t look ideal for the rest of the game. I’m not sure how he actually is, but if he is no good, it is obviously a big loss for us.

“He is in his 100th consecutive Test match, which I know he was really looking forward to taking part in and having a role in.

“Fingers crossed he is okay but it didn’t look good obviously.

“It is not ideal, particularly your spin bowler. One player with one role. Batters, I suppose there are loads of us around so it is a bit different.

“Nathan, if he is no good, would be a huge loss. However, we have Todd Murphy waiting in the wings, who has been bowling beautifully in nets and bowled really well in India when he got his opportunity.

“I would be confident if he came in that he would do a terrific job for us but fingers crossed Nathan is alright.”

Smith, who struck 110 in Australia’s first innings total of 416, warmed up for this English summer with a three-match stint for Sussex, where he claimed two for 55 in his final appearance against Glamorgan.

But the part-time leg-spinner insisted: “I haven’t been working on my bowling at all.

“I bowled a few overs at the back end of one of the games – where pretty much the game was dead – just because everyone else was cooked.

“Hopefully I won’t have to bowl too much. I thought (Travis) Heady bowled all right, a bit different to Nathan, just skidding them more than Nathan does.

“Yeah, Heady is probably the one who is going to have to take a fair chunk of the spin overs and maybe myself and Marnus (Labuschagne) will chop in here and there.

“Yeah, not ideal when you lose your spinner on a surface that is not offering a great deal for the quick bowlers.”

England opener Ben Duckett sent his best wishes to Lyon but acknowledged the absence of Australia’s veteran spinner could be crucial in their efforts to level the series.

“It is a huge shame. I really hope it’s not too bad for him,” Duckett said.

“You never want to see anyone go down with an injury. He was going to play a massive part in that fourth innings because he is such a good bowler. If they go bumpers with all three bowlers, they’ll be pretty tired.”

Smith, who was 85 not out overnight, celebrated his 32nd Test hundred in the morning session.

A sumptuous cover drive for four earned Smith his 12th Ashes century, with eight of them occurring in England.

He added: “It is obviously a huge moment, I love playing here at Lords. I have spent a fair bit of time in the middle the last two times here and then this game as well.

“It is a nice place to play if you get in, you get good value for your shots and nice to get myself back up on the honours board again.”

Nathan Lyon is set to play his 100th consecutive Test when Australia and England meet at Lord’s from Wednesday.

The second Ashes Test sees the visiting spinner bring up an unprecedented landmark for a bowler and here, the PA news agency looks at his record in that time.

Six of the best

Lyon will become only the sixth man to play 100 consecutive Tests, with the others all specialist batters including one regular wicketkeeper – current England coach Brendon McCullum, whose 101 Tests without missing a game mark the next figure for Lyon to pass. McCullum took the gloves in 52 of those games.

India’s Sunil Gavaskar and Australia’s Mark Waugh played 106 and 107 consecutive Tests respectively, both in Lyon’s sights barring injury or a shock omission.

Allan Border’s Australian record of 153 successive appearances will surely remain out of reach, however, along with former England captain Sir Alastair Cook’s world record of 159.

Even the other regular bowlers on the list were all-rounders, with Sir Garry Sobers closest behind Lyon with 85 consecutive appearances for the West Indies.

Kapil Dev had separate runs of 66 and 65 for India, missing only one Test in his 131-match career, while Lord Ian Botham also played 65 in a row for England between 1978 and 1984.

In terms of specialist bowlers, spinner Anil Kumble’s 60 consecutive Tests for India from 1992 to 2000 is the longest run other than Lyon’s.

Five from 500

Lyon’s 495 Test wickets rank eighth all time and fourth among spinners, with the fairytale prospect of bringing up 500 and adding his name to the famous Lord’s honours board in the process.

On his previous visits to the Home of Cricket, he took one for 53 and two for 27 in 2015 and three for 68 before a wicketless second innings in 2019.

He needs 24 wickets to catch former West Indies paceman Courtney Walsh for the next spot on the list, though compatriot Glenn McGrath could remain out of reach in sixth, 68 ahead of Lyon.

England’s long-standing new-ball pair James Anderson (686) and Stuart Broad (588) are in the top five along with the other spinners on the list – Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan clear on 800, Australia great Shane Warne taking 708 and India’s Anil Kumble splitting Anderson and Broad with 619.

Since his debut in August 2011, Lyon has missed only four of the 125 Tests Australia have played – against India at Perth in 2012 and Hyderabad the following year, plus the first two games of the 2013 Ashes in England.

Since being recalled at Old Trafford in August 2013 he has been ever-present, taking 419 wickets at an average of 30.60 including 20 of his 23 five-wicket hauls.

He has four 10-wicket matches along the way, with his best figures of eight for 50 in an innings and 13 for 154 in a match both set in 2017 against India and Bangladesh respectively.

His run of 99 Tests so far includes 109 wickets in 29 Ashes Tests and 99 in 21 against India, with double figures of Tests too against South Africa (13) and Pakistan (12). Eight games against New Zealand, seven each against the West Indies and Sri Lanka and two against Bangladesh complete the list.

Stuart Broad lit the fuse on England’s victory push with two huge wickets as a compelling Ashes opener built towards a thrilling conclusion at Edgbaston.

Broad got England’s ‘fortress’ rocking in the evening session as he had Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith – numbers one and two in the Test batting rankings – caught behind during an electric spell.

With adrenaline coursing through his veins Broad would have loved nothing more than a crack at the man who occupies third place on that list, but Australia opted to shield Travis Head from the late pressure and sent out Scott Boland as nightwatchman.

Australia ended a gripping fourth day on 107 for three chasing 281, with all results on the table heading into what is set up to be a classic finale.

The tourists had made an assured start to the chase, with Usman Khawaja and David Warner putting on 61 for the first wicket before Ollie Robinson got one to clip the latter’s outside edge to get his side up and running.

England had earlier been bowled out for 273, an erratic but entertaining innings punctuated with dashing strokeplay but haunted by a feeling of impermanence.

There was not a single half-century on the card, with Joe Root and Harry Brook both reaching 46 and Ben Stokes contributing 43.

Had any of the three lasted the course, the game might have slipped away from Australia entirely, but Root was stumped for the first time in his 131 Test career as he charged Nathan Lyon and Brook tried too hard to generate a boundary that was not on offer.

Stokes, whose attacking principles run through the DNA of his side, played a notably responsible knock but was stopped in his tracks by his excellent opposite number Pat Cummins.

England’s commitment to high-risk, high-impact cricket hurried the first Ashes Test towards a gripping conclusion, setting Australia 281 to win on day four at Edgbaston.

Resuming on 28 for two, England put their foot to the floor as they moved to 273 all out at the end of an elongated afternoon session.

The hosts would have loved one of their middle-order batters to kick on to a substantial score, but saw Joe Root (46), Harry Brook (46) and Ben Stokes (43) dismissed one by one just as they were dragging control away from the Australians.

There were important runs too from from the tail, Ollie Robinson making 27 as the last two wickets put on 44.

Despite delivering emphatically on their promise to entertain, even those who roared their approval from the stands may reflect that England over-reached against Nathan Lyon at times.

Root was stumped for the first time in 131 Tests when he ran down the pitch and swiped fresh air and Brook cut short a highly promising stay when he dragged to midwicket trying to force a boundary.

Former captain Root set the tone for a colourful day with an audacious start, attempting his trademark reverse ramp off Pat Cummins’ first delivery of the morning.

Root has become a master of that audacious stroke but, even by his own standards, attempting it so early – with a crucial Test match balanced on a knife-edge – showed remarkable chutzpah.

Undeterred, he went back to the well twice in the next over, launching Scott Boland over the wicketkeeper’s head for six and then flicking four more beyond the slip cordon. It was a faintly surreal, but utterly exhilarating opening salvo.

England continued to go after Boland, who shipped 31 off his first three overs as his reputation for economy took its second battering in four days.

By contrast, Cummins was working up a head of steam at the Pavilion End and he produced a picture-perfect inswinging yorker to see off Ollie Pope (16), thudding the base of off stump as the batter groped for contact. He finished with four for 63 – an outstanding effort by any measure.

That left England 84 ahead and three down, but the arrival of Brook ensured the tempo did not slow. He took just three balls to register his first four, punching Cameron Green down the ground and quickly dialling up the aggression.

He helped himself to 13 off Lyon’s first over – not the kind of reception the spinner would have anticipated on a wearing pitch – and later launched him over extra-cover with a clean swing of the bat.

Lyon got his rewards for sticking at it, Root overly giddy as he ran down the pitch and left Alex Carey a simple stumping.

Stokes unexpectedly cooled things down, playing safely as he realised the importance of slowing Australia’s roll, but Brook lost his patience as Lyon dried up the scoring options.

Within sight of a first Ashes fifty he swiped at the spinner and was well caught by the diving Marnus Labuschagne at midwicket.

Jonny Bairstow successfully overturned an lbw decision just before lunch, with England heading in at 155 for five. They made another 118 in the middle session, but were bowled out in the extra half-hour as they wrestled for the upper hand.

Bairstow took the lead past 200 with successive fours – an impeccable square drive and a thick edge to deep third – but he was undone lbw by the wily Lyon for 20.

That left Stokes in charge of building the lead and he batted with deliberate focus, putting away the slogs that have too often followed him around as captain.

He hit five boundaries in almost two hours of observance, before his opposite number Lyon trapped him leg-before with the lead at 217.

England will have been happy with their finishing position from there, Moeen Ali making a scratchy 19 and Robinson showing real composure as he chipped away vital runs.

He was close to being out for five, but Labuschagne brushed the ball across the ground after claiming the catch at short leg. He holed to give Lyon a fourth, with Stuart Broad and James Anderson adding 17 more before the latter edged Cummins behind.

The 2023 Ashes is set to be one of the most exciting in history, with a resurgent England taking on Test champions Australia.

Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have led England to 11 victories in 13 matches since their appointments as captain and coach last summer, while Australia cemented their status as the best five-day team in the world by thrashing India by 209 runs in the World Test Championship final.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five key stats ahead of the five-match series.

Travball

Freed up by Stokes’ and McCullum’s ultra-positive mindset, England’s batters account for seven of the eight fastest strike rates among players with more than 500 runs to their name since the New Zealander was installed as coach on May 12, 2022.

Australia batter Travis Head is the only non-Englishman in the list, with his strike rate of 83.75 runs per 100 balls ranking fourth behind Harry Brook, Ben Duckett and Jonny Bairstow.

Stokes described Head as “so hard to bowl to” in the previous Ashes in Australia, in which he scored 357 runs – the most by anyone on either side – from just 415 balls faced.

He has maintained that form ever since, most recently in a trademark counter-attacking innings of 163 from 174 deliveries against India.

Head’s performances have seen him climb to third spot in the Test batting rankings, behind countrymen Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.

Joe Root is the highest-ranked England batter in sixth.

The last time three batters from the same team were first, second and third in the Test rankings was in December 1984, when Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd, and Larry Gomes from West Indies were at the top.

All out attack

While England’s cavalier batting under Stokes and McCullum has attracted lots of attention, their bowlers have been equally destructive by dismissing the opposition in 25 consecutive innings.

This is their longest run since 1978 and 1979, when England bowled out 26 successive opponents in a sequence that brought series wins against Pakistan and New Zealand, plus a 5-1 Ashes success in Australia.

The wickets have been shared among 14 players during the current run, with veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad – as well as the injured Jack Leach – leading the way on 45 apiece.

Anderson has the best overall figures having claimed his scalps at an average of 17.62, ahead of Ollie Robinson who has 27 wickets at 21.25.

Matthew Potts has chipped in with 23 victims, ahead of captain and Durham team-mate Stokes on 20.

Then comes a bit of a gap to Root on nine wickets and Mark Wood – who has only played two Tests under Stokes and McCullum – on eight.

The overlooked Rehan Ahmed and Will Jacks took seven and six wickets in Pakistan respectively, while Josh Tongue claimed a five-for on debut against Ireland at Lord’s.

Jamie Overton (two), Brook (one) and Matt Parkinson (one) have also contributed, while there have been five run-outs and one retirement through injury.

Stokes fitness worries

Stokes’ bowling capability remains somewhat shrouded in mystery ahead of the first Test.

England’s captain has been recovering from a troublesome left knee and – despite insisting he is ready to bowl – has sent down only nine overs in six Test innings so far in 2023.

He also bowled only one over for Chennai Super Kings in this year’s Indian Premier League and was described by coach Stephen Fleming as “batting cover” during the second half of the tournament.

Stokes’ all-round abilities are key to the balance of England’s side, particularly given his preference for fast, flat pitches which could result in bowlers having to get through lots of overs.

Meanwhile, Australia all-rounder Cameron Green – who is playing in an Ashes in England for the first time – has enjoyed a promising start to his Test career.

He has lost only three of the 21 matches he has played in.

Indomitable Lyon

Nathan Lyon has played a remarkable 98 consecutive Tests for Australia, the joint-sixth longest run in history.

The 35-year-old off-spinner – who took four for 41 to help dismiss India in their second innings and clinch the World Test Championship – has not missed a single game since sitting out the opening two Tests of the 2013 Ashes in England.

While Lyon is unlikely to break the record held by former England captain Sir Alastair Cook (159), he is already out on his own among bowlers.

All-rounders Garry Sobers (85), Kapil Dev (66) and Ian Botham (65) have been surpassed, although India’s Dev can consider himself unlucky not to hold the bowlers’ record having missed only one Test in his 131-match career.

Lyon’s omnipresence is in stark contrast with his opposite number Moeen Ali, who is returning to red-ball cricket after nearly two years away as an emergency replacement for the injured Leach.

Moeen admitted this week that he has “never been able to hold an end up” and the stats back this up – his economy rate of 3.61 runs per over is far worse than Lyon’s 2.92.

However, he has a better strike rate than his Australian counterpart, taking a wicket every 60.7 deliveries compared with Lyon’s 63.7.

Absent friend

This will be the first Ashes series since Shane Warne’s sudden death in March 2022.

Warne will be forever synonymous with the urn, having taken more wickets against England than any other player in Test history (195).

The Australian introduced himself to Ashes cricket in 1993 by dismissing Mike Gatting with his very first ball. The delivery – which pitched outside leg and clipped the top of off – was subsequently dubbed the “ball of the century”.

Warne went on to claim 129 Ashes wickets in England at an average of 21.94, compared with 66 scalps at 25.81 in his native Australia.

He won 24 of the 36 Ashes Tests he played in, losing seven and drawing five.

Two of those defeats came in 2005, which was arguably Warne’s greatest Ashes performance despite him finishing on the losing side.

The leg-spinner claimed 40 wickets at an average of 19.92, including six in both innings in the fifth Test at the Oval as Australia tried unsuccessfully to prevent an England series victory.

Australia will head into next week’s Ashes as Test world champions after they stamped out Indian resistance in ruthless fashion to claim a 209-run win at the Oval.

With just five days to go before they renew their biggest rivalry against England at Edgbaston, Australia soared to victory, dismissing India for 234 on the final morning of the ICC’s second World Test Championship final.

Scott Boland provided the key breakthrough, removing star batter Virat Kohli in the seventh over of the day and making it a double strike by dismissing Ravindra Jadeja two balls later.

Boland was unlikely to play until injury ruled Josh Hazlewood out, but the bustling 34-year-old seamer must now be well fancied to take on Ben Stokes’ side in Friday’s first Test.

Everything was on the line on the fifth day of the red-ball showpiece, with 280 runs needed and seven wickets up for grabs. Ordinarily, such an equation would have made Australia overwhelming favourites, but Kolhi’s presence as a master chaser left Indian fans with real belief that their side could make a record 444 to win the match.

He was in fluent touch on the previous evening, reeling off a punchy 44, but he added just five more to his score as Boland landed the key wicket.

Immediately after beating the outside by a whisker he tossed one wider and drew a lavish drive from Kohli, who sprayed a rapid chance between second and third slip. Steve Smith did the rest, throwing himself into action to take a brilliant catch.

Unlike an equally outstanding take from Cameron Green on day four, there was no debate whatsoever about the legality of this one, nor of its relevance to the final outcome. With Kohli gone for 49, India’s hopes were all but over.

Their fans, who have dominated the stands all week and who poured in on Sunday in the hope of witnessing a famous victory, were dumbstuck.

If anybody doubted it, then Boland wasted no time in hammering home the point. Two balls later he was celebrating again, Jadeja caught behind for a duck as Boland found a hint of movement around off stump.

When Srikar Bharat saw a thick edge squirt off the toe of the bat it looked like three wickets in four deliveries for Boland, but this time the ball kept rising and narrowly beat a leaping David Warner at first slip.

Ajinkya Rahane did his best to reinvigorate the battle, stroking a couple of regal drives down the ground, but Australia held all the cards. He departed for 46, struck clean in front of the stumps attempting a sweep.

Mitchell Starc, who could be vulnerable if Hazlewood comes back in against England, added the wicket of Umesh Yadav, but the rest of the tail was mopped up in efficient style by Nathan Lyon.

He finished with figures of four for 41, nailing Shardul Thakur lbw, collecting a skier of a return catch from Bharat and finishing things up when Mohammed Siraj steered a reverse sweep straight to point.

Australia’s celebrations began in earnest as the formed a circle in the middle of the pitch, while India were once again runners-up, having lost the inaugural final to New Zealand two years ago.

Shubman Gill made a brilliant century as Australia could only take three India wickets on a slow-moving day three of the fourth and final Test.

Replying to Australia's 480 all out at the Narendra Modi Stadium, India were trailing by 191 runs at stumps on Saturday after closing on 289-3.

Opening batter Gill dug in for his highest Test score of 128 in Ahmedabad, where Virat Kohli was well set on 59 at stumps and Ravindra Jadeja was still there on 16 as Rohit Sharma's side strive to win a series they lead 2-1.

Spinners Todd Murphy, Nathan Lyon and Matthew Kuhnemann claimed a wicket apiece as Australia toiled in the heat on a pitch offering little encouragement for the bowlers.

An opening stand of 74 between Rohit (35) and Gill ended when the captain struck a Kuhnemann delivery to Marnus Labuschagne at short cover, but the tourists were unable to make further inroads in the morning session.

The watchful Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara found runs hard to come by after striding out after lunch at 129-1, but they looked untroubled in a partnership of 113 before Murphy trapped the number three lbw for an obdurate 42.

That breakthrough came just before tea, which India took on 188-2 after Gill had swept Murphy for four to reach three figures.

Kohli started with positive intent to get the scoreboard ticking and Gill continued to look comfortable until he was struck on the pad in front by Lyon, leaving India 245-3.

Steve Smith wasted a review for an lbw shout against Jadeja off the bowling of Murphy and Kohli brought up an 107-ball half-century by working Lyon off his hip for two as India chipped away at Australia's lead.

India will look to build an advantage on day four, knowing they have retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy but need a win to be guaranteed to face Australia once again in the World Test Championship final in June.

Patience pays off for Gill

Gill laid the foundations with a superbly constructed innings, biding his time as faced 235 balls and wore the Australia bowlers down.

This was his second Test hundred after his first against Bangladesh last year and should cement his spot at the top of the order. 

He struck 12 fours and a six, launching Lyon over the rope in the final over on day two.

Kohli looking ominous

Former captain Kohli was rock solid in defence and aggressive at every opportunity, giving himself a great chance to register a 28th Test century.

Australia will need to see the back of the 34-year-old before too long on Sunday if they are to have a realistic chance of squaring the series at 2-2.

After comfortable victories in the first two Tests of their home series against Australia, it looked like India would be on the way to a simple series win.

The Baggy Green came back with a vengeance in the third Test in Indore though, winning by nine wickets after limiting India to a total of just 272 runs from their two innings.

It provides more drama for the fourth and final Test, when the home team will be looking to avoid suffering defeat in multiple Test matches in a series in India for the first time in over 10 years. 

India have not lost more than once in a men's Test series on home soil since going down 2-1 to England in November-December of 2012.

The Border-Gavaskar series finishes in Ahmedabad, which has seen spin dominate in previous Tests.

Surfaces have been almost the sole subject of discussion around the matches so far, but India captain Rohit Sharma just wants to focus on playing cricket.

"Honestly the pitch talk is getting too much, every time we play in India focus is only on the pitch. We focus too much on the pitch in India," he said.

"I don't think that is necessary. Honestly speaking, these are the kind of pitches we want to play on.

"This is our strength, so when you're playing at your home, you always play to your strength, not worry about what people outside are talking about."

It was a good job Australia were able to restrict India to so few runs in the third Test, as their batters have struggled throughout the series, only scoring more than 200 in an innings once.

They have scored an average of 25.3 runs per wicket in men's Tests in 2023, their lowest rate since 1956 when they averaged just 21.6 runs per wicket.

The tourists will also be up against history, having not won multiple games within a single series in India since 1969.

Their spinners will likely be needed to step up again, with the emergence of Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann alongside Nathan Lyon proving a revelation in the third Test, with the trio taking 18 of the 20 India wickets to fall between them.

Murphy wants to make the most of it, saying: "I haven't thought too far ahead but when you look, Gaz [Lyon] is still bowling as good as he ever has so when this series does come to an end it is going to slow down a little, it's quite rare other places in the world to play two spinners."

Can Kohli rediscover form?

Virat Kohli has been unable to find his best form of late, averaging 22.2 in the series and without a half-century in five innings.

However, he has made a good connection on 82 per cent of his 219 balls faced, the highest of any player to have faced at least 60 balls this series, so just needs to find a way to translate that into more runs.

Lyon close to becoming number one tourist in India

The experienced Lyon was sensational in the last Test, particularly in the second innings as he claimed figures of 8-64.

The 35-year-old has taken 53 Test wickets in India, the second most of any visiting player in the history of the men's format, with only England's Derek Underwood (54) having taken more.

Australia's recovery from the "one hour of chaos" that sank their second Test hopes against India delighted head coach Andrew McDonald.

The tourists lost their first two red-ball games to the hosts, including a dramatic batting collapse in Delhi that cost them the chance of regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

But they recovered to seize victory in the third Test in Indore, thanks to Nathan Lyon's record-breaking spell with ball-in-hand - which saw him become the highest wicket-taker in Tests between Australia and India - during their nine-wicket triumph, one which saw them qualify for the World Test Championship final.

That bounce-back has impressed McDonald, especially after losing six wickets of their own for just 11 runs during the first innings, with the coach thrilled by their resolve.

"You have almost got to be near perfect against India in India," he said. "I think this game besides that 6 for 11 was near perfect.

"We had a little bit of luck [but] we took our opportunities as well. You compare that to the Delhi game. We had one hour of chaos there and that cost us that Test match when we'd played pretty good cricket."

"We came here and doubled down on what we'd set out to achieve at the start of the tour. So on the back of Delhi, it was 'how clear are we going to be in what we need to do next'".

On Lyon's second-innnings 8-64, McDonald added: "We go out there and Nathan Lyon as the experienced spinner delivers one of his best performances. It always takes an individual to do something special to get the team back on track, no doubt about that."

Australia will have the chance to tie the series when they meet India in their final red-ball game in Ahmedabad, starting on Thursday.

Australia stand-in captain Steve Smith hailed "a complete performance" as the tourists raced to a nine-wicket win over India in Indore to book a place in the World Test Championship final.

In a low-scoring contest at Holkar Cricket Stadium, Australia set the tone on day one by bowling out India for 109, before going on to build an 88-run first-innings advantage.

Eight wickets in the second innings from Nathan Lyon helped to dismiss India for 163, and that left Smith's team needing just 76 for victory on Friday.

They lost Usman Khawaja early, but Travis Head made 49 not out and Marnus Labuschagne an unbeaten 28 to calm any nerves, with Australia reaching a match-winning 78-1 in 18.5 overs.

Lyon was named player of the match, and Smith said: "Nathan got all the rewards with eight wickets, but I think our bowlers as a collective were really good."

He praised the attack one by one, before adding of Australia's effort: "It was a complete performance in the end."

Smith has stepped in to lead the team since Pat Cummins travelled home to Australia for family reasons.

"We're thinking of Patty back home," Smith said at the post-match presentation. "He's had to go home, so our thoughts are with him.

"I really enjoyed this week, I like captaining in this part of the world, I feel like I understand the conditions really well and the intricacies of the game that need to happen ball in and ball out. I think I did a reasonable job this week.

"We're really proud to have clinched a spot in the World Test Championship in a couple of months' time."

It could be India awaiting Australia at the Oval in London in June, and that certainly will be the case if the home side win the fourth Test that begins at the Narendra Modi Stadium next Thursday.

Smith and Australia want to level the series though, having trimmed their arrears to 2-1 with this victory.

"Hopefully we can put up a similar performance and finish the series really well," Smith said.

India skipper Rohit Sharma said his team would "need to regroup and try to understand what we did right in the first two Test matches as well".

He said India have "got to be brave... which I thought we were not".

Lyon's 11 wickets in the match have made him the most successful bowler in Tests between India and Australia, taking him two past Anil Kumble's haul of 111 wickets.

The spinner said: "I just love challenging myself at this level and get a big thrill out of that."

Nathan Lyon took eight wickets on a dramatic day two of the third Test to leave Australia needing 76 runs to beat India and keep the series alive.

Sixteen wickets fell on a captivating second day at Holkar Cricket Stadium, where the tourists collapsed to 197 all in reply to India's 109.

Ravichandran Ashwin (3-44) and Umesh Yadav (3-12) took Australia's last six wickets for only 11 runs to seemingly leave the game in the balance.

With sharp turn and variable bounce to contend with, Cheteshwar Pujara made 59 but India were skittled out for 163 in their second innings in Indore, Lyon claiming a magnificent 8-64 to leave Australia facing only a small run chase to make it 2-1.

Ashwin ended a stand of 40 by removing Peter Handscomb (19) after Australia resumed on 156-4 and Umesh trapped Cameron Green leg before in the next over.

Umesh cleaned up Mitchell Starc and Todd Murphy as the tourists folded after the drinks break, with Ashwin on the money as he struck Alex Carey in front, before bowling Lyon to end the innings in a flash.

Starting their second innings with a deficit of 88, India lost openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma bowled and lbw respectively to the excellent Lyon.

Virat Kohli followed for only 13 after being struck on the pad in front of middle stump attempting to pull a Matthew Kuhnemann delivery that kept low and India were 78-4 when Lyon sent Ravindra Jadeja trudging off.

Shreyas Iyer made a brisk 25 before falling to Mitchell Starc and Lyon continued to apply the pressure, seeing the back of Srikar Bharat and Ashwin.

Pujara stood firm for a battling half-century but his knock was ended when Steve Smith produced a brilliant diving catch at leg slip for the relentless Lyon, who dismissed Umesh and Mohammed Siraj without scoring to clean up the India innings.

 

Ashwin into the top three

The 36-year-old Ashwin took his incredible tally of international wickets to 689 in his 269th match to become India's third-highest wicket-taker across all formats.

He surpassed the great Kapil Dev's haul of 687 in all formats for India, making the most of the conditions after Jadeja (4-78) had taken all four wickets for India on day one.

Only Anil Kumble (953) and Harbhajan Singh (707) have claimed more scalps for India in all formats combined.

Lyon Australia's spin king

It was Kuhnemann who starred for the tourists by claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in only his second Test on day one, but fellow spinner Lyon was the main man on Thursday.

He bowled with great guile and control, helping himself taking his 23rd haul in the longest format after picking up three wickets on day one.

Lyon now has more wickets against India across all formats than any other Australia bowler after moving past Brett Lee's total of 111, having claimed his second eight-wicket haul in India.

Axar Patel dug India out of trouble with the bat to keep the second Test against Australia finely balanced after two days.

The spinner followed up his 84 from India's innings victory in the first match of the series, this time making 74 in a rearguard action as the hosts fought back from 139-7 to post 262 all out.

That meant Australia held a one-run first-innings lead, with Nathan Lyon taking 5-67, and the tourists reached 61-1 at the close batting for a second time at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.

India began the day on 21-0 but soon began to unravel. KL Rahul (17), captain Rohit Sharma (32) and Cheteshwar Pujara (0) departed in the space of three overs, with India sliding from 46-0 to 54-3 as Lyon gobbled up each wicket, bowling Rohit and getting two lbw verdicts.

Shreyas Iyer (4) soon followed, and although Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja added 59 for the fifth wicket, when the latter was dismissed lbw for 26 by Todd Murphy it heralded another collapse. Kohli became the fourth lbw victim of the innings when he fell to Matthew Kuhnemann for 44, and Srikar Bharat (6) did not hang about, leaving Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin with the task of salvaging something.

They proved up to the job, adding 114 for the fourth wicket before Ashwin (37) fell to Pat Cummins with the new ball, a loose delivery down the leg side flicked to Matt Renshaw at square leg. Axar was then caught brilliantly by Cummins off Murphy, ending hopes of a maiden Test century.

Australia, ultimately relieved to avoid a first-innings deficit in this latest instalment of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series, then saw Travis Head's 39no help them overcome the early loss of Usman Khawaja (6) before the close.

David Warner will miss the rest of the game due to concussion, and has also suffered a hairline elbow fracture, it was announced earlier in the day.

Lyon closes in

Lyon took his Baggy Green career haul to 496 wickets, putting him on the brink of becoming the sixth Australia bowler to reach 500 at international level. A long-format specialist, some 466 of Lyon's scalps have come in Tests.

With the breakthrough wicket of Rahul, Lyon became the second Australia player to reach 100 wickets in all formats against India, after Brett Lee, who took 111 wickets. This haul also took him to 100 wickets in Border-Gavaskar Trophy matches.

Axar keeps hosts in touch

Axar's innings was a terrific concoction, as he struck three sixes and nine fours before going after another powerful shot and perishing to an exemplary catch from Cummins. He went wicket-less during 12 overs with the ball in Australia's first innings, but this was another reminder he is in the team as a bowling all-rounder.

He made a modest 249 runs in his first 13 Test innings, but has plundered 158 from his last two knocks.

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