Analysis suggests Lyon unlucky not to claim more scalps

Australia's Nathan Lyon during the third day of the second Test against India in Bangalore.
Australia's Nathan Lyon during the third day of the second Test against India in Bangalore. Aijaz Rahi

AFTER eight scalps in the first innings of the second Test, Nathan Lyon went wicketless in 27 overs on Monday as India (4-213) surged to a 126-run lead at stumps. But there's an argument he actually bowled better.

It seems outrageous to suggest a man who took 8-50 in the first dig - the best figures by a visiting bowler in India - actually gave the opposition more trouble while finishing the day at 0-69 from 27 overs.

But that's only if you believe the only way to measure a bowler's performance is by the number of wickets he takes.

A few years back ESPNCricinfo, seeking to better understand the overall battle between bat and ball, unveiled what it calls control statistics.

As the site's stats editor Susairaj Rajesh wrote: "Control factor seeks to measure the percentage of deliveries a batsman played, where the ball went exactly where the batsman intended it to go; that is, he either middled the ball or left it alone. The not-in-control deliveries are the ones which beat the bat or induced edges."

It makes sense to dig a little deeper when evaluating the overall performance of a batsman or bowler in an innings. Anyone who has played, or watched, cricket understands how big a part luck plays in the game. This is where we come to Lyon's returns in Bangalore.

During his historic performance in the first innings, the Indian batsmen had a combined control percentage of 77.61%, per ESPNCricinfo. That means Lyon was forcing a false stroke with almost one in every four deliveries he sent down - pretty impressive.

But despite failing to take a pole on day three, his ability to trouble the host nation was just as impressive. The Indian batsmen's control percentage has actually been lower against the Aussie offspinner to this point of the second innings at 77.16%.

So before you begin trotting out the same tired criticism of the GOAT after he, on paper, failed to deliver in a potentially series-defining session, keep those numbers in mind.

Topics:  australian cricket team nathan lyon tour of india

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