Crawley made a fluent 43 on day one and was in even better touch as he anchored the tourists’ second innings with 91 in just 99 balls.
The 22-year-old’s only hundred in England whites came in a tour match in Whangarei last November and he looked set to match the achievement here, driving emphatically and showcasing his confidence against spin.
He picked up 17 boundaries in all but saw his momentum broken by the lunch break and poked the first ball of the afternoon to silly mid-off.
England reached 282 for five at tea, nominally 353 ahead, with Ollie Pope 75 not out having also spent valuable time at the crease. The began the day at 39 for one and progressed to 170 for three by lunch.
Joe Denly was first to go for 27, brilliantly caught one handed by Priyamal Perera at second slip, and Ben Stokes raced to 43 in just 42 balls before holing out chasing a fifth successive boundary.
Stokes had been promoted to number four having faced just five deliveries on Saturday and found his feet quickly, accelerating sharply when he dispatched the first four balls of a Duvindu Tillakaratne to the ropes.
He fell to the fifth, looking to plant it over long-off but falling well short.
Tillakaratne was also the man to end Crawley’s stay after the restart, bringing Keaton Jennings to the crease.
The batsman made 23 before falling lbw to a reverse sweep – typically one of his strongest shots – and is unlikely to have done enough to force a Test recall.
Pope batted chancelessly through the second session, easing to his half-century.