Crawley 189 puts England on top on Day 2

Crawley 189 puts England on top on Day 2

Zak Crawley smashed a scintillating 182-ball 189 to put England in a dominating position on day two of the fourth Test at Old Trafford. The opener added 206 runs in just 178 balls for the third wicket with Joe Root to put Australia to the sword, powering England to 384 for 4 at the close of play. With the threat of rain looming large on days 4 and 5, the hosts doubled down on their aggressive approach to force a result, wiping out Australia’s first-innings advantage in just 55 overs and taking a 67-run lead at stumps.

England’s perfect day began with Jimmy Anderson picking up a wicket off the first ball of the morning, with Pat Cummins chipping his drive to Ben Stokes at cover. Mitchell Starc swung his bat to take Australia past 300 before Chris Woakes nicked off Hazlewood to complete his five-fer and end their innings on 317.

England endured a shaky start with the bat as Ben Duckett departed in the second over, edging behind to Mitchell Starc, while Crawley survived a close LBW call that was overturned via DRS. However, it didn’t take long for the hosts to get into their stride as Moeen Ali and Zak Crawley put the pressure back on the Australian attack either side of Lunch. The pair struck a flurry of picturesque drives off the pacers and went after part-time spinner Travis Head, adding 121 for the second wicket.

Promoted to number three, Ali repaid England’s faith by lacing his first Test fifty since 2019 before picking out Usman Khawaja at midwicket to depart for 54. Ali’s departure though, did little to stop the carnage as Joe Root and Zak Crawley plundered the Australian attack. Root stormed out of the gates in fourth gear, manipulating the field to perfection to bring up a quickfire half-century, while Crawley took just 26 balls to score his second fifty as he brought up his fourth Test ton.

The duo punished a lacklustre bowling effort from the visitors in a sensational afternoon session that cost Australia 178 runs in just 25 overs. Crawley put on a batting exhibition as he accelerated after Tea. The opener looked on course for a double century but eventually departed on 189, chopping onto his own stumps to end the mammoth stand on 206.

Root, meanwhile, fell to a delivery that scuttled along the turf from Josh Hazlewood with England 36 ahead. Ben Stokes and Harry Brook grew that advantage to 67 by the end of day’s play, leaving the hosts in pole position to win the fourth Test and level the series at 2-2.