Moeen captured five wickets – all of them in succession – as England continued to claw their way back into the thrilling, roller-coaster Fourth Test.
The Worcestershire all-rounder bowled with control, confidence and plenty of spin. After the misery he suffered in the Ashes last winter, it was great to see him operating with such skill.
Moeen’s figures of 5-63 helped England bowl out India for 273 and restrict their first innings lead to 27 runs. By the close of day two, England reached 6-0 in their second innings.
They would have settled for that when India were 142-2. But England then took six for 53 before the masterly Cheteshwar Pujara marshalled 78 runs from the final two wickets.
Pujara’s fifth Test century against England and his first in this country brought 132 not out.
Ali was brought back into the team and replaced Ollie Pope at the Ageas Bowl
Don’t forget, England were 86-6 on Thursday so their position now represents a big recovery.
Moeen’s form and confidence crumbled so badly against the Aussies that he finished with just five wickets in the series at 115 apiece. He looked a broken bowler.
He was overlooked for the first five Tests of the summer with the likes of Dom Bess and Adil Rashid chosen ahead of him.
But doubts over Ben Stokes’ fitness gave Moeen an opportunity here. He was in cracking form, which helps, after scoring a double-century and taking eight wickets for Worcestershire against Yorkshire last week.
Moeen responded with 40 runs on day one and a seventh-wicket stand of 81 with Sam Curran and now his bundle of wickets, all five of them on the trot.
Thank goodness England recalled Moeen and Curran for this match. They’d be in a pickle without them.
Moeen admitted: “Australia is a tough place for spinners and it’s a case of believing you’re not a bad player after one bad winter. Many players have gone through it.
“You move on, become a stronger character. I moved on from that tour pretty quickly, to be honest. It’s all about mindset, I haven’t changed anything technically.
England trail India by 21 runs early in the second innings of the Fourth Test
“I went back to Worcester, cleared my mind and really enjoyed playing county cricket. It always helps being called up by England when you’re in decent nick.”
Moeen took eight wickets – including a second innings six-fer – when England beat India in Southampton four years ago.
He added: “That gave me a bit of confidence, it brought back some memories. After my first over here, I thought I’d be in the game.”
Moeen’s fun started when Rishabh Pant was lbw in the final over before tea for a 29-ball duck. Next, Hardik Pandya clipped to short mid-wicket.
Ravi Ashwin was bowled attempting an ultra-ambitious reverse sweep and Mohammed Shami missed a straight one first ball.
Moeen was on a hat-trick. He took one against South Africa last year but this time Ishant Sharma emphatically blocked.
Ishant helped Pujara put on 32 for the ninth wicket before being gobbled at short leg and Jasprit Bumrah aided in a crucial last-wicket liaison of 46.
Earlier, Stuart Broad captured a couple of early wickets before Curran snared the big one – Virat Kohli caught by Alastair Cook at first slip for 46.
Stokes was fit enough for one spell, during which he had his rabbit Ajinkya Rahane leg before.
With India eventually dismissed after 6pm, Cook and Keaton Jennings came in for the final four overs of the day.
Both survived. And Jennings finally got his first runs of the Test, tickling one fine to the boundary, cue a huge sigh of relief.
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