Zak Crawley leads England charge in fifth Ashes Test against Australia - GulfToday

Zak Crawley leads England charge in fifth Ashes Test against Australia


Zak Crawley plays a shot during the fifth Ashes Test match against Australia at the Oval on Saturday. Reuters

Zak Crawley's latest 'Bazball' batting display helped England make a blistering start to their second innings in the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval on Saturday.

England, in a match they have to win to square the series at 2-2, were 130-1 in their second innings at lunch on the third day — a lead of 118 runs.

Crawley, the leading run-scorer in the series, was 71 not out off just 73 balls and England captain Ben Stokes unbeaten on 12.

England had yet to start their innings when play resumed on the third day, with Australia 12 runs ahead after Steve Smith's 71 had led them to 295 all out. But England needed only one over to erase that deficit.

Smith-runout Jonny Bairstow breaks the stumps in an attempt to dismiss Australia's Steven Smith, on ground. AP

Crawley, who had struck a cover-drive for four off the first ball of the series, repeated the shot off Saturday's first ball in a clear sign of England's intentions. But it was Ben Duckett who was the more aggressive of England's openers.

He drove Starc's fifth ball for a four through mid-on before clipping the sixth, a half-volley, through midwicket for another boundary as England took the lead.

Starc's first two overs cost an expensive 22 runs and Australia captain Pat Cummins brought himself on at the Pavilion End in place of the left-arm fast bowler.

Duckett, however, kept up the momentum, bringing up England's fifty in just 8.4 overs. But a partnership worth 79 came to an end when Starc produced a full delivery that Duckett could only edge behind to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Duckett was initially given not out but Australia successfully reviewed and the left-hander departed for 42.

With Moeen Ali ruled out of batting in his listed number three position after being off the field all day Friday with a groin injury, Stokes promoted himself. The skipper walked out to huge cheers from a capacity crowd grateful for his role in England's red-ball revival during the past year. Cummins brought Todd Murphy on before Stokes had time to settle but Crawley swept him for four.

And the 25-year-old right-hander, who made a superb 189 in the rain-marred drawn fourth Test at Old Trafford, followed up by going down the pitch to drive Murphy through the covers for another stylish boundary. His three off Starc took Crawley to a 61-ball fifty including five fours.

The sunny overhead conditions, with the ball not swinging in the air or deviating much off the pitch, were ideal for attacking batting.

Crawley continued to go for his shots, pulling a short ball from Starc for four before hammering two boundaries off successive Murphy deliveries with hard-hit sweeps.

Agence France-Presse

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