Nathan Lyon has declared India are the only side under pressure in the ongoing four-Test series – and that it showed in Bangalore.
Opposing skippers Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are set to meet alongside incoming match referee Richie Richardson on Wednesday in Ranchi, where the third Test stats on Thursday.
Smith and Kohli both have a long list of grievances to air, with tensions between Australia and India bubbling over throughout the second Test and its acrimonious aftermath.
Lyon had no hesitation in pushing Kohli’s buttons with comments the firebrand will almost certainly take exception to.
“He can do what he wants,” the offspinner said.
“I think they’re feeling the pressure a little bit to be honest (based on India’s conduct in Bangalore), and it’s good.
“We need to just keep worrying about what we’re doing. India can carry on or do whatever they want to do.
“The pressure is right on India. There’s no pressure on us. Everyone said we were going to lose 4-0, ‘they’re no good’.”
Pressure was the word that prompted Kohli’s first spray of the series, when he accused Smith of playing “mind games” for suggesting the hosts were under added pressure following Australia’s shock series-opening win.
The ill-feeling escalated quickly throughout the second Test in Bangalore. Kohli swore at Australia’s batsmen from go to whoa, antagonised them at breaks of play and made a throat-slitting gesture after the fall of one wicket.
A stunning post-match tirade followed.
Kohli slapped down Smith for calling his glance to the stands for review support a “brain fade”, accused Australia of systematically cheating with regards to reviews, then unleashed on Ian Healy.
Lyon was also in Kohli’s firing line for suggesting the Indian superstar was the head “of the snake”, borrowing the analogy that Dale Steyn used to describe Smith in Perth late last year.
“I’m not surprised about it,” Lyon said.
“He’s one of the best batters in the world, but I don’t find him intimidating.
“I want to challenge myself against the best batters in the world and he’s one of those.”
The curator in Ranchi, which is hosting its first ever Test, has prepared three different pitches for the hosts to pick from.
Lyon, who capped a stunning transformation from Adelaide Oval groundsman to frontline Test spinner in 2011, suggested the visitors aren’t worried about the ethics of such a ploy.
“We all expect that over here,” Lyon said, having become Australia’s leading wicket-taker in Border-Gavaskar contests with an eight-wicket haul in Bangalore.
“We’ll just have to wait and see which one they play … it’s going to be the same for both sides.
“The last two pitches I’ve been able to get good bounce, sharp bounce and fast spin.
“We believe we can beat the best teams anywhere in the world. We proved that in the first Test, we came close in the second Test.”
Australia will retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy with another victory.
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke told India Today he wanted “Australia and India to butt heads on the field … but there’s a line”.