In a thrilling turn of events, England came out strong on the second day of the fourth Ashes Test, taking a commanding lead against Australia. Led by the exceptional batting performance of Zak Crawley, England surpassed Australia’s first-innings total of 317, giving them hope of squaring the series. Despite a valiant effort from the Australian bowlers, England’s aggressive approach paid off, leaving Australia struggling to regain control. Let’s dive deeper into the action-packed day at Emirates Old Trafford.
Crawley’s Heroics Propel England
Zak Crawley showcased his batting prowess, stunning the Australian team and fans alike with a sensational innings. From the very first ball, Crawley displayed his intent, flicking it expertly past Alex Carey for a boundary. Although he had a shaky start before lunch, Crawley’s performance in the afternoon session was nothing short of exceptional. With a run rate of 7.12, England added 178 runs in just 25 overs, and Crawley played a pivotal role in this run spree.
His first Ashes hundred came off just 93 balls, making it the fourth-fastest century by an Englishman. Crawley’s aggressive stroke play left Pat Cummins and the rest of the Australian bowlers struggling to find answers. He pulled, drove, flicked, and slog-swept his way to a brilliant 189 off 182 deliveries. This innings not only put England in the driver’s seat but also made Crawley the leading run-scorer in the series.
Moeen Ali and Joe Root Support Crawley
While Crawley stole the spotlight, Moeen Ali and Joe Root made significant contributions to England’s dominance. Ali, temporarily batting at No. 3, came out with an aggressive approach. Although he had a few loose shots, Ali managed to reach his first Test fifty since January 2019. His partnership with Crawley provided stability and added valuable runs to England’s total.
Root, England’s captain, also joined the party with a well-crafted innings. He showcased his class and skill, scoring 84 runs before being dismissed by a low-bouncing delivery from Josh Hazlewood. Root’s performance, combined with Crawley’s heroics, ensured that England took firm control of the match.
Australia’s Struggles in the Bowling Department
The Australian bowlers were left reeling in the face of England’s onslaught. Mitchell Starc’s early injury only added to their woes, as he damaged his left shoulder while diving in the field. Without a frontline spinner in their lineup, Australia’s decision seemed ill-advised in hindsight. The absence of a spinner exposed their lack of control and left them scrambling for answers.
Despite the wicket of Root, the Australian bowlers failed to make a significant impact. Hazlewood’s low-bouncing delivery to dismiss Root was a rare moment of success for the visitors. Cummins tried to slow down the game with frequent changes in the field, but Crawley’s aggressive batting and England’s attacking mindset proved too much for the Australian bowlers to handle.
Crawley’s Dominance and Fall
Crawley’s innings was nothing short of a masterclass in aggressive batting. He consistently punished the Australian bowlers, dispatching their deliveries to all parts of the ground. His stroke play was both elegant and powerful, leaving the Australian fielders helpless. Crawley reached his century in style, swinging back-to-back boundaries off Hazlewood and Starc.
As the innings progressed, Crawley continued to dominate the Australian bowling attack. He reached the 150-run mark with another powerful shot, this time off Mitchell Marsh. England’s lead was secured, and it seemed like Crawley would go on to achieve a double century. However, fate had a different plan, as he bottom-edged a swing across the line onto his own stumps, falling just 11 runs short of a well-deserved milestone.
England’s Scoring Rate Slows Down
After the dismissal of Root, England’s scoring rate slowed down significantly. Stokes and Harry Brook held the fort, ensuring that England maintained their lead and ended the day on a strong note. The Australian bowlers, despite their struggles, managed to regain some control, but it was too little too late.
Starc’s injury further compounded Australia’s woes, as they were left with one less bowler on the field. The management remained optimistic about Starc’s prospects of bowling on the following day after he received treatment for his shoulder injury.
Australia’s Early Wickets and Woakes’ Fiery Spell
The start of the day seemed promising for Australia, as Cummins chipped a half-volley straight into the hands of Stokes, giving Chris Woakes an early breakthrough. However, Woakes’ celebrations were short-lived as a front-foot no-ball meant that Hazlewood was given a reprieve. Woakes eventually dismissed Hazlewood, caught expertly by Duckett at third slip.
Despite the late resistance from the Australian tailenders, Woakes’ fiery spell ensured that they were unable to add significant runs. Woakes celebrated his first Ashes five-wicket haul, a testament to his bowling prowess and impact on the game.
Conclusion and Outlook
England’s dominant performance on day two of the fourth Ashes Test has put them in a strong position to square the series. Zak Crawley’s breathtaking innings, supported by Moeen Ali and Joe Root, has given England a substantial lead. Australia, on the other hand, struggled to contain England’s aggressive batting and faced further challenges with Mitchell Starc’s injury.
As the fourth day approaches, England will aim to extend their lead and set a challenging target for Australia to chase. Australia, on the other hand, will need to regroup and find a way to stage a comeback. The stage is set for an exciting finish to the fourth Test, with both teams eager to secure a crucial victory in the Ashes.