Cult figure Lyon breaks through at MCG

Roger Vaughan and Michael Ramsey
Cult figure Lyon breaks through on 'nice Garry' ball

Australian cricket cult figure Nathan Lyon made the unlikely breakthrough in the first hour of the Boxing Day Test.

The MCG crowd chanted "Garry, Garry" as the off spinner warmed up, with Pakistan's innings only 11 overs old.

But Lyon's third delivery was a beauty and opener Sami Aslam edged a simple catch to captain Steve Smith at first slip.

Aslam was out for nine and Pakistan were 1-18 after winning the toss.

Channel Nine commentator Ian Chappell had forecast it might be worth giving Lyon a bowl before lunch, noting the ball could grip on the grassy pitch.

Lyon had also been busy in the field before his breakthrough, with an underarm throw too high as the Pakistan openers went for a quick single.

Had Lyon's shy at the stumps been accurate, Azhar Ali would have been out.

The wicket was just what Lyon needed.

He was also embraced by the Gabba faithful during the first Test against Pakistan but delivered another lacklustre bowling performance, finishing with figures of 0-31 and 2-108.

The offspinner has been unable to find his best form for most of the year, including Australia's disastrous tour of Sri Lanka, and was almost dropped in favour of uncapped quick Chadd Sayers for the Brisbane Test.

Smith's apparent reluctance to throw Lyon the ball in Brisbane also raised eyebrows, especially with a tour of India on the horizon.

Asked prior to to the match whether Lyon was likely to bowl more often in Melbourne, Smith gave no assurances.

But he said the conditions at the MCG should be ripe for Lyon to return to his best, with the 29-year-old to benefit from a return to the red ball and what was expected to be a spin-friendly pitch.

"When there is a bit of grass here, the ball can take a little bit of spin so we'll have to sum that up and see how we go," Smith said on Sunday.

"Nathan's working hard on his bowling.

"I thought during the last game, he bowled some good spells and some spells that weren't as good. He's working hard, and he bowled well here last year, so hopefully we can see some more of the same."

With speculation Australia could look to spinner Steve O'Keefe for February's tour of India, Smith said he had spent time with Lyon working on how to manage conditions on the subcontinent after his struggles in Sri Lanka.