Crawley makes most of chance as second Test ends in predictable draw

first_imgZAK Crawley made the most of his chance – when it finally came – scoring a half-century on the final afternoon of a second Test severely affected by bad weather throughout.With only 91.2 overs bowled up to the final resumption and the draw a fait accompli, the evening session was consigned to batting and bowling practice. But it was by no means wasted on the players or the viewing public who had been starved of action for frustrating stretches of the match in Southampton.The opportunity was not lost on Crawley, who came into the side for Ben Stokes and returned to the ground where he made a career-high 76 in the first installment of England’s series against West Indies in early July.Crawley’s frustration that he couldn’t go on further after reaching his third Test fifty was palpable when he swung his bat furiously through the air while trudging off, having fallen lbw to Mohammad Abbas for 53. Up to that point Crawley, who is just 22 years old and seven Tests into his career, had acquitted himself well.Play recommenced at 3.20pm local time for the first time since all but the first hour of the fourth day was lost to rain and after a severe thunderstorm lashed the Ageas Bowl in the early hours of the fifth day, requiring lengthy mopping up and drying efforts.It was a cruel irony that when play resumed it was in blazing sunshine and it stayed that way until stumps, when England declared their first innings on 110 for 4 and the sides shook hands on a draw shortly after 6pm. That ended a run of six consecutive Test wins in charge for Joe Root, but ensured England go into the third and final Test starting at the same venue on Friday with a 1-0 series lead.The sun also changed the complexion of the match, albeit too late to have any effect on the result.The movement and bounce that had so troubled England on the fourth morning, when they lost opener Rory Burns for a four-ball duck, were far more tame on the final afternoon and Crawley and Dom Sibley bedded in for a 91-run second-wicket stand.Abbas, largely unplayable during his opening spell on the fourth day, dropped a couple short in his second over and was duly punished by Crawley, who pulled nonchalantly to the boundary at backward square leg and crunched another through cover point.Crawley ended up with seven fours, including one through cow corner off a Yasir Shah long hop to bring up his half-century.Crawley had been keen to face Yasir, having travelled to India a couple of years ago to develop his batting against spin. But Yasir would have had him stumped in his third over had it not been for a fumble by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, who has been otherwise tidy behind the stumps. Crawley skipped down the wicket to Yasir, effectivley yorking himself, but Rizwan failed to grab the ball as it skidded through.It was Abbas, who ultimately did for Crawley, starting a new spell and immediately pinning him back with a length ball on middle stump which moved away off the seam, beating the bat and striking the back pad. Crawley reviewed, probably in the hope that it had hit him too high, but he was confirmed out on umpire’s call and sent on his way.Sibley, too, played well for his 32 but, slightly worryingly for him, he was caught behind down the leg side in Abbas’ next over, a style of dismissal which has become familiar.Yasir was amongst the wickets when he had Ollie Pope out cheaply lbw, and Root pulled the pin after one ball from his counterpart Azhar Ali, as the teams reached the final hour and shook hands on a draw.Rizwan was named Player of the Match after top-scoring in Pakistan’s innings with 72.While the match ended brightly enough in terms of play resuming in glorious conditions and Crawley taking another step in his development, the positives were overshadowed by debate over the lack of action due to the weather and questions over how the game can evolve to avoid such frustration.(ESPN Cricinfo)last_img

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