'I worked very, very hard': Lyon on 8-wicket haul

There is a reflex movement Nathan Lyon makes when leading Australia off after a bag of wickets.

As he raises the ball to the crowd his head dips just a little, as if a piece of string links the two. Subtle but emblematic of Lyon's default setting — humility.

On this defining day, the tweaker took 8-50. They're the best figures a foreigner has claimed across 259 Test matches played in India. The second-best return from a spinner in Australia's 140-year history of playing Tests.

He left the best player on the planet flummoxed to set the dramatic events in motion. He laid the foundation for a series-defining victory.

And how did Lyon respond?

"That ball was nothing special if you are asking me," he said of humbling Virat Kohli.

"I owe [Steve O'Keefe] a lot of those wickets today, bowling in partnerships, and even Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Starc and Mitch Marsh," of how he did it.

"I am very lucky to take eight wickets," of his incredible final analysis.

With the greatest respect to his sincerity and generosity, it's time to call false on Lyon's self-assessments. That his success is always the result of someone else. Or luck. Or good fortune.

Not after the number of times he has prevailed with his career teetering. Early on, to fight back after being dumped in India then England. In recent years, knowing the lure of someone else with swankier tricks is never far away. Not least last summer, where he was only saved by an O'Keefe calf strain after the Hobart debacle.

When Christmas arrived, Lyon's celebrity was never higher thanks to Matthew Wade and the Facebook choir, but he was back on that familiar brink.

Well-sourced reports had him bowling for his career in the second innings at Melbourne. His spell between lunch and tea opened the door to a win Australia never had a right to claim. He survived.

Even so, a lacklustre tour of Sri Lanka last year meant he arrived here under more scrutiny than any tourist.

Just as perceptions (and numbers) once showed that Lyon couldn't finish teams off, now the evidence supported the view that he was overwhelmed bowling where spinners are meant to thrive. An average in Asia of 44 reinforced this.

"I am going to be brutally honest, after the tour of Sri Lanka I went home and reflected on that personally and worked very, very hard," Lyon said after play.

"In the lead-up to the BBL games I was getting there two hours before and bowling in the nets."

Despite claiming the last three wickets on offer in Pune in what was graded a fine joint performance with O'Keefe, he wouldn't have been human if the thought didn't cross his mind that only one spinner will play in the Ashes and the other guy took 12-70. In short: he had to be a match-winner here too.

Lyon's faith that he could be was in part informed by another post-Sri Lanka encounter, words with Rangana Herath, who ran wild with 28 wickets in that series.

"He hits the same spot over and over again," Lyon said.

"If I keep doing that, I'm going to keep creating chances. And hopefully things will start to happen."

That philosophy wholly defined his pre-lunch spell of 23 balls, concluding a delivery early when claiming the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara.

According to CricViz, every one of those off-breaks landed in what they define a "good" length outside the off-stump. Just as he had seen Herath do, Lyon was now the one landing them in a shoe box. More often than not with steep bounce and strident turn.

After O'Keefe pinned India down — seven overs for nine runs — Lyon had the freedom to rip it hard, and coupled with that aforementioned accuracy, proved near-impossible to play risk-free.

Both Pujara and KL Rahul tried to break his rhythm deploying paddles that would have been taken at leg slip had it been stationed. It didn't work. In consecutive attempts Pujara's inside edge was found then his outside edge beaten. All before the shoulder of his bat was finally taken on the way up. The quintessential off-spinner's prize.

Next came the Indian captain. Arriving to an anticipatory but pleading roar of the crowd, but departing 20 minutes later after underestimating just how far Lyon could turn the ball back, inexplicably watching it crash into his pad.Terrible batting brought on by this relentless shift of bowling.

"I don't know if they're going to spin or go straight, and … neither does the batter," Lyon joked.

Ajinkya Rahane certainly didn't, the vice-captain running past one that held its line, after so many had done the opposite. When O'Keefe did his bit before tea, the collapse was on with home confidence shattered.

Lyon's reintroduction after the break netted five further wickets for 10 runs to decimate the hosts vaunted lower order for a third time. One turned until it collected a glove and ballooned, then a charming over-spinner was edged to slip.

Ravinda Jadeja got some of his own medicine when Lyon spat one straight on from around the wicket. That made four, five and six. Seven and eight came in consecutive balls when by this stage our protagonist could do no wrong.

"I don't need to prove it to anyone else in the world," Lyon said, his day ending with 241 wickets, seven behind Richie Benaud.

He may already be Australia's most prolific finger spinner, but that would leave only Warne ahead of him for all slow bowlers.

"I've proven to myself that I can compete at this level and I want to keep doing that. It's where my passion lies," he said.

Lyon may not care about proving it to the world, but he did again, more emphatically than ever. In doing so, he proved his own words wrong. For this had everything to do with skill and perseverance, and nothing to do with luck.