Nice, Garry! Lyon joins legends with 500th Test wicket as Aussies rout Pakistan for massive win
Nathan Lyon became just the third Australian to 500 Test wickets to provide the highlight of a dominant fourth day in Perth, the champion off-spinner helping to rout Pakistan for just 89 and secure a commanding 360-run win.
On a treacherous Perth wicket featuring uneven bounce and cracks aplenty, Lyon needed to wait for the milestone as the Australian quicks, led by three scalps apiece from Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, made mincemeat of the tourists’ batting order, turning what had been a doughty performance from the underdogs across the first three days into their latest humbling defeat on these shores.
From the moment Abdullah Shafique edged a Starc riser through to Alex Carey in the first over of the innings, having been set exactly 450 runs after Pat Cummins’ mid-afternoon declaration, the visitors looked totally incapable of fighting off conditions seemingly tailor-made for Australia’s menacing attack.
The star trio’s dominance briefly threatened to force Lyon to head to the MCG for the Boxing Day Test still stuck on 499 Test scalps, but the magical moment would arrive when a classically flighted off-break straightened down the line to trap Faheem Ashraf LBW, though Cummins would need to call for the DRS to overturn umpire Richard lllingworth’s not out call.
Holding the ball aloft to a sparse but appreciative Optus Stadium crowd, the moment was the ultimate vindication for one of Australian cricket’s most resilient careers.
Emerging during a period of crisis for Australian spin bowling in the era immediately following the retirement of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath – Lyon’s companions in the 500-wickets club – the off-spinner has endured trials, tribulations, controversial omissions and home conditions usually hazardous for slow bowling, and overcome them all to sit deservingly on the top shelf of Australia’s greatest ever spinners.
Having struggled through one of his toughest summers on the eve of his 400th Test wicket against India in 2020/21, to have secured his latest milestone so early in the season will undoubtedly be a relief for the 36-year old – as will the fact he will arrive in Melbourne with 501 wickets after cleaning up Aamer Jamal with a vicious low shooter just four balls later.
The inevitable end arrived when Hazlewood removed Saud Shakeel and Khurram Shahzad with successive balls, the latter spooning the simplest of catches to David Warner at first slip to complete the demolition job.
That Warner had the final say was fitting after his first-day century put Australia in an all but unassailable position right out of the blocks, though his performance wasn’t enough for player of the match honours, Mitchell Marsh’s twin half-centuries and crucial wicket of Babar Azam in the first innings making him a popular winner.
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