Crawley flying as Atherton finds his feet

Cricket: Lancashire 125 and 133-1 Nottinghamshire 263
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The Independent Online
The action was a good deal less hectic on the second day. The pitch had dried and changed colour and the great news for England was that John Crawley again showed he has come into excellent form at the best possible moment, while Mike Atherton has so far batted for 51 overs and by the end was looking much more like himself.

Once again Lancashire soon lost Jason Gallian, who completed a pair when, in the third over, he played forward to one from Kevin Evans which left him and he was caught behind.

Crawley started with a lovely back-foot drive through extra cover for four off Evans and began to play with a compelling fluency. His timing was in good order too which made it even better to watch.

Atherton was much less at ease to start with. Early on there was a nice shot off his legs for four but he realised the importance of simply staying there and having a long spell in the middle. Crawley moved elegantly to his fifty with his eighth four, a pull to mid-wicket off Chris Tolley while Atherton's concentration never wavered.

Thanks largely to Usman Afzaal, who comes from Rawalpindi, Nottinghamshire gained a lead of 138. Afzaal's admirable adhesiveness lasted for 322 minutes while he made 70 not out. He has had a good week. On Tuesday at Trent Bridge he made a hundred for Nottinghamshire 2nd XI. As a result he was pulled out of that game and posted here.

He was helped by Peter Johnson, his captain, who seldom wasted the chance to score. There were 10 fours in his 65 before his middle stump was uprooted by Glen Chapple's yorker.

In contrast Afzaal nudged and deflected for his runs and had only one four in his fifty, which he celebrated with an on-drive off Ian Austin for his second.

Austin took four of the last six Nottinghamshire wickets to fall for a cost of 20 runs and bowled at a competitive and brisk medium pace, finding both lift and movement.

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