England captain Joe Root has heaped praise on recalled off-spinner Moeen Ali for a superb bowling performance that secured the series win against India.
Ali was deservedly named Player of the Match after taking four key wickets in the second innings, notably the wicket of Indian kingpin Virat Kohli. That wicket broke a century partnership between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane that threatened to take the match away from England, which would have levelled the series at 2-2.
‘I think today was the best I’ve ever seen him bowl in an England shirt, that’s such a testament of how he’s gone about things and how he’s come back, his strength of character and that strength in depth we have as a squad,’ said Root. ‘A bit of time away from this environment, I’ve spoken to him about that – having a different look at things, going to IPL and coming back performing really well for Worcester must give you a huge amount of confidence.’
Ali’s second-innings performance came off the back of a five-for in the first innings that kept England in the match after they had disappointed with the bat. Ali had contributed a vital 40 with the bat in a key partnership with Sam Curran (78), which lifted England from 86-6 to 167-7, enabling them to post a relatively competitive first innings 246.
‘We could be quite defensive with the field, keep the catchers in and trust there’d be one ball in there to turn the game around,’ added Root. ‘More than anything, it was about keeping the guys calm, which wasn’t too difficult as captain. The way we went about and trusted our process, how we wanted to approach the day was exceptional. If we can take that forward, it will stand us in good stead.’
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