By Sudipto Ganguly
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Nathan Lyon likes proving to himself that he belongs at test level and the challenge of being successful against the best players, the Australia off-spinner said after registering career-best figures against India on Saturday.
Lyon decimated the hosts, the world's top-ranked team and widely acclaimed as the best players of spin bowling, on a first day pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium to claim eight for 50, the best figures by an overseas bowler in India.
That helped Australia bundle out India for 189 and put the touring side in a strong position to dictate terms in the second match of the four-test series.
"It's pretty easy to get yourself up against the best players of spin, I like to challenge myself against the best players and I love to play well against the best players and prove to myself," the 29-year-old Lyon told reporters.
Lyon proved less lethal on his last trip to India in 2013 and series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and last year's 3-0 drubbing in Sri Lanka.
Lack of success at the beginning of Australia's summer also raised questions about his place in the test team.
"I've proved to myself I can compete at this level and I want to keep doing it for Australia," he said. "This is where my passion lies and I just want to keep doing what I can for Australia."
Lyon said he closely followed his Indian counterpart Ravichandran Ashwin, the world's number one bowler, and spoke to Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Rangana Herath to aid his development.
On Saturday, he used the bounce that was on offer from the pitch to run through the Indian batting. The batsmen were also foxed by deliveries which went straight without spinning.
"I don't know if they're going to spin or go straight. So if I don't know, neither does the batter really," Lyon said.
Australia reached 40-0 at stumps but India opener Lokesh Rahul, who top-scored with 90, was confident Ashwin could have the same sort of success.
"That's the only way we are looking at this match... the cracks are opening up and it's only getting harder to bat on this wicket," Rahul said.
"We know Ash (Ashwin) is a top-class bowler and once he gets a couple of wickets and gets into that rhythm then he is going to run through the Australian batting line-up, which we are very confident of."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)