If its same pitch, red ball may be easier to play: Zak Crawley | Cricket News

MUMBAI: If India do dish out a similar raging turner as was on show for the third Test against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium, in the fourth and Test that kicks off on Thursday, the million-dollar question is: Will the traditional red ball be slightly easier for the batsmen?
After the last game folded up in merely two days, England skipper Joe Root felt that the fact that the pink ball skidded faster off the surface made things difficult for the batsmen. In a virtual presser on Tuesday, his team’s opener Zak Crawley made a similar assertion, while outlining that this week, the batsmen may breathe slightly more easily even if the pitch turns out to be as vicious as the one for the last Test.
“It depends on the pitch obviously, but I think if it’s the same pitch, I do think that it’ll be slightly easy. I felt that the pink ball was a bit harder (to play) and that ball skidded on quite quickly, which is why Axar (Patel) got so many wickets lbw and bowled. I think he still has that ball in his armoury for sure and he’ll still be a massive threat with that one (red ball). But I think it might not skid on with the same pace as the pink ball but it won’t be completely different,” Crawley said.
On their part, England have no illusions that the hosts, who need just a draw to go through to the final of the World Test Championship, would not churn out another square turner.
“I think it will be a very similar pitch this week, why wouldn’t it be? They played very well on these last two pitches that have turned. It wasn’t easy to score for sure, but it was the same for both sides, and they played very well compared to us. We had our chance to bat first and did well and unfortunately we didn’t play well as we needed to,” said Crawley.
While terming Ravichandran Ashwin as an “unbelievable bowler,” the young England batsman was all praise for left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who destroyed the visitors with an incredible match haul of 11 for 70 on a helpful pitch, shaping his team’s 10-wicket rout. Even though he looked England’s best batsman by far during his 53-run knock in the first innings, Crawley succumbed to Axar, who now has 18 wickets in his first two Tests, twice at Ahmedabad. “He is a very good bowler, especially in these conditions. He has been extremely accurate. He doesn’t give you much to score. And he has got one that goes straight on in these conditions, and one that turns. He is a very good bowler, but we played against (Lasith) Embuldeniya in the (Lanka) series and managed to score some good runs and win some Test matches, so there’s no reason why we can’t do that against Axar,” said Crawley.
Do the English batsmen need him and Ashwin in a different way? Ian Chappell suggested that they needed to use their feet more, and get down the track to play them. “Possibly, it depends how the ball plays. It’s a different (red) ball, it might not do as much, in which case we don’t have to change (our [playing style) too much…just play your natural game. Obviously, it looks like it’s going to be just as tricky, and play the same way, one skidding and one turning. We’ve learnt from the last game,” said Crawley.
In a game which saw his team being rolled over for 112 & 81, the opener was England’s lone bright spot, stroking 53 in the first innings. “I probably had the best (chance) to face seamers early, but still nice to score some runs, nonetheless. In these conditions, you need to have your game plan, and have a lot of luck,” he said.
While England can’t now qualify for the WTC final, India are on the cusp of making it to the summit clash against England at Lord’s in June. Does that add anything to the dynamic of the game, add a bit of pressure on the hosts if things slip away in quest for the big prize? “Well, I can’t speak for them. In terms of us, it doesn’t change anything for us. It is a massive game. Obviously, a big game for them as well. They want to be in the WTC final, so, you know, there’s still loads to play for. Whether it is the WTC or not, you want to win every Test,” Crawley stressed.
Even though they’ve struggled against India’s spinners massively on this tour, the 23-year-old Crawley termed the tour as a “great learning curve, both on and off the field.”

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