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'Bazball' comes naturally to us: Zak Crawley

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Zak Crawley England test cricket

Zak Crawley (File image)

Visakhapatnam: England opener Zak Crawley on Wednesday said most of his teammates have become better players since embracing the ultra-aggressive 'Bazball' approach, which is way more compatible with their natural game than the traditional "take-your-time" strategy.

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England upstaged India by 28 runs in the opening Test in Hyderabad despite conceding a 190-run first-innings lead, showcasing a fighting attitude that stunned the pre-series favourites. England are yet to lose a Test since pioneering 'Bazball' under their New Zealand coach Brendon McCullum.

"I suppose it ('Bazball') comes quite naturally as a lot of our teams are playing more aggressively. The mindset when I first came to England was to backlight or take your time and build a long innings and I didn't think that came naturally to me and a few of the others," Crawley said in a press conference ahead of the second Test starting here on Friday.

"A lot of us play a bit better under this regime," he added.

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In contrast, India was also battling a selection crisis in addition to finding answers to their poor performance in Hyderabad after all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and top-order batter KL Rahul were ruled out due to injuries.

The hosts are already without mainstay Virat Kohli, who has opted out of the first two Tests citing personal reasons.

Asked what it would mean for the English team, Crawley said his team is more focused on its performance and planning.

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"...we haven't spoken about that. It sounds cliched but we stick to our own lead-up... we don't bother about what they are doing," Crawley said when asked if the absence of the duo is a boost for England.

"Two very good players missing out but I'm sure looking at their depth they have two very good players coming in. So, that won't change anything for us too much. We're just trying to play the same, read the conditions on day one and see what happens for there," he added.

India have drafted Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar and Sourabh Kumar to replace the injured duo. The hosts also have the option of playing Rajat Patidar, a domestic veteran.

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After the loss in spin-friendly conditions in Hyderabad, there is a lot of chatter surrounding the possible nature of wickets that the hosts will prepare for the second Test starting here on Friday. Crawley that's not a concern either.

"They're absolutely a top side in their own conditions. There are four games left, we have got to stick to what we do well and hopefully, results come from there," he said. England underwent an extended training camp in Abu Dhabi to prepare for the series in India and Crawley feels the camp benefitted them even though some former players had criticised the team for not landing in India early.

"It was exactly how we wanted...The wickets in Abu Dhabi turned a lot because we wanted them and we made them turn," he said.

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Talking of preparation, Crawley said using sweep shots against spinners, something that Ollie Pope executed to perfection during his epic knock of 196, is a well-thought-out strategy.

"I think sweeping and reverse sweeping when it's spinning is a good option. It takes the spin out of the plan. I think the reverse sweep is more common for us because there's just less field in there," he said.

"They always seem to have two men out on the leg side. If they had two men out on the other side, we'd probably play the sweep...the reverse sweep comes probably just as naturally to us as the normal sweep," he added.

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While their lone pacer Mark Wood went wicketless, Indian quick Jasprit Bumrah snared six wickets, including 4 for 41 in the second innings which featured a splendid spell of reverse swing. Crawley was effusive in his praise for the Indian star.

"He is an incredible bowler. I think he bowls a yard fuller in India or bowls long yorkers and things like that.

"They have an unbelievable seam of attack, which you can't take for granted," he signed off.

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