Moeen Ali: It’s been a great fightback from England

The contest is still anybody’s but England has made a remarkable comeback in the last three days, after India ended Day One on 276 for 3 in the first innings, acknowledged Moeen.

Moeen Ali struck twice late in the day to remove Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja, which pegged India back.   -  GETTY IMAGES

England made an excellent comeback after a one-sided Day One to keep the second Test on a knife’s edge going into the final day at Lord’s, and it needs to show more of this fighting spirit for long periods to become better as a team, all-rounder Moeen Ali said at a press conference at the end of an absorbing fourth day’s play.

India was 154 runs ahead in the second innings after Day Four, with four wickets in hand. It had been reduced to 55 for 3 at one stage, before Cheteshwar Pujara (45, 206b, 4x4) and Ajinkya Rahane (61 (146b, 5x4) combined for a 100-run partnership led their team’s recovery. Mark Wood (3 for 40) and Moeen (2 for 52) accounted for three more wickets to fall in the final session as India progressed to 181 for 6.

The contest is still anybody’s but England has made a remarkable comeback in the last three days, after India ended Day One on 276 for 3 in the first innings, acknowledged Moeen.

“It’s been a great fightback. And that’s what we kind of talked about. K. L. [Rahul] and Rohit [Sharma] got going in the first innings, but you’ve got to keep believing, in Test cricket. That’s what’s the most difficult thing to do, to show that fight. I think we did that amazingly well the following day (second day). I think to be better as a team we need to show more of that. More of that fight, for long periods,” he said.

Play was stopped before the scheduled close of play due to deteriorating light. It seemed India was keener than England not to continue to play during the business end of the final session, judging by the gestures from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma from the Indian dressing room. But Moeen said England was ready to go off the ground as well.

“We were ready to come off as well. With Rishabh Pant in, a 15-20 run over could have been dangerous going into tomorrow. These kinds of things don’t bother us – at least, me, personally, I think – because it’s a tactical thing, I think. Both teams had the same tactics,” he said.

‘Enjoying my cricket’ 

It was a productive day for Moeen with the ball as he took two quick wickets – Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja – to expose India’s tail.

“Really enjoyed myself a lot. That was my aim, really. It’s not the runs and the wickets so much, although they help. It was more about enjoying myself, and enjoying the challenge as much as I could. I just wanted to be a part of this series and do well. Take wickets and score a few runs. Just enjoying my cricket as much as I could,” he said.

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Moeen praised fast bowler Mark Wood, the other star of the day for England. Wood dismissed key batsmen in K. L. Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara.  

“Very pleased for him. The way he bowled today was fantastic. He fully deserved his wickets, and I thought that wicket of Pujara was massive. It just shows how much heart he has as he ran in and banged at the wicket with a soft ball on a dead wicket. He was fantastic today,” he said.

‘Brilliant match’ 

How does he see the contest progressing on the final day?

“Anything over 220-230 is going to be quite difficult [to chase]. Not impossible, obviously, but it won’t be easy. We are going to have to play well tomorrow. What we want is to keep them to less than that. I think when it goes above a certain score – 230, 240 – you kind of think it gets harder.

“But I think the new ball for both teams tomorrow is crucial. They’ve got Pant; we know what he can do but we also have James Anderson with the new ball. We need four wickets; they need some runs. What I do know is we have got a brilliant match tomorrow.”

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