England vs India 4th Test Day 4: Moeen spins England to unassailable 3-1 series lead

Moeen Ali four wickets England India 4th Test Day 4 Southampton cricket

Moeen Ali finished with figures of 4-71 off 26 overs

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

England all-rounder Moeen Ali troubled India’s batsmen again as he took a four-wicket haul to lead his side to a 60-run win on the fourth day in Southampton.

Moeen’s superb performance with the ball also helped England claim an unassailable 3-1 series lead heading into the fifth Test.

Starting off the day on 260/8, England failed to add to their overnight score before Stuart Broad was caught behind off the bowling of Mohammed Shami for a golden duck.

England ended up being bowled out for 271, which set India a target of 245 to win, when Sam Curran was run out by Ishant Sharma for 46.

Shami was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Ishant took two, and Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 245 to win, India made a horrible start to their innings as opener Lokesh Rahul was clean bowled by Broad for a duck.

Cheteshwar Pujara was the next to go as he was given out lbw off the bowling of James Anderson for five runs.

Pujara opted to review the decision, but replays showed the ball was pitching in line and clipping the stumps.

Things went from bad to worse for the tourists as Shikhar Dhawan, who opened the batting with Rahul, was caught by Ben Stokes at gully off the bowling of Anderson for 17.

With India reeling at 22/3, captain Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane came to the rescue with a 101-run partnership, during which Kohli brought up his half-century.

However, shortly after doing so, he was caught by Alastair Cook at short leg off the bowling of Moeen for 58, which came off 130 balls and included four boundaries.

Kohli decided to review the decision, but his gamble didn’t pay off as replays showed that the ball had brushed his glove before Cook caught it.

India began to collapse once Kohli was gone as Stokes took out Hardik Pandya for a duck, while Rishabh Pant made a quickfire 18 before being caught by Cook off the bowling of Moeen.

Rahane went on to score 51 off 159 deliveries, which included a solitary boundary, before he was trapped lbw off the bowling of Moeen.

Despite calling for a review, Rahane had to trudge back to the pavilion as replays showed the ball was pitching in line and crashing into the stumps.

Ishant and Shami fell soon after, but Ashwin put up a fight towards the end.

However, his efforts went in vain as India were bowled out for 184 when he was given out lbw off the bowling of Curran for 25.

Moeen was the most successful bowler with four wickets, while Stokes and Anderson took two wickets apiece. As for Broad and Curran, they claimed one wicket each.

Kohli was gutted to have lost, and said: “[50-50 chasing 245?] Indeed, I thought England played really well to give us that target, seeing how the pitch was and the ball was spinning, it was challenging for us. We thought we were in with a chance last night but we didn’t get the start we wanted, they were relentless with the ball and applied pressure throughout. Credit to them, they bowled well and we couldn’t get enough.

“[Stand with Rahane] Mindset was one ball at a time, me and Jinks wanted to put on a partnership. Usually you’re in the chase with a partnership but they made early inroads and we knew a couple of wickets would put pressure on us. We enjoyed it out there, but they pulled it back, that’s the beauty of Test cricket. There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’, calls that could have gone our way. We could have got maybe a larger lead, Pujara was outstanding to get us ahead. There were many factors, but not many negatives, England played better than us and deserved the win. We need to take the positives into the next Test match.

“[England lower order] I think it’s great to have guys who strike the ball well in those positions, you can get a partnership together and hurt the opposition. They are fearless and have skills, they were braver than us in tough positions. Runs from the lower order were significant, I congratulate Sam Curran, he’s been a fine cricketer. Apart from Lord’s I don’t think we have been outplayed, it’s been enjoyable, teams going at each other with good quality. We’ll go to The Oval and come out with the same intensity.”

England skipper Joe Root was delighted to have won the match and series, and said: “[Curran performance] Not just in this game, but throughout the series, for a young guy to have that influence on three games is outstanding. [Enjoy winning close Tests?] More enjoyable now than when it’s going on. Credit to the boys, really up against it on the first morning, couldn’t be more proud of the group.

“[Kohli-Rahane stand?] For the seamers it was about hitting the surface as hard as possible, being as aggressive as possible, be defensive with the fields and know that one ball could turn it around. We trusted our process and that was exceptional, if we can harness that and take it forward, it will stand us in good stead.

“[Moeen?] A bit of time away from the environment, going to the IPL, performing well for Worcester, must give you confidence. Best he’s bowled in an England shirt, testament to his strength of character and the strength in the squad.”

Moeen was named Man of the Match, and said: “Thanks, great to be back, missed Test cricket a lot. Needed a bit of a break, great to come back and contribute to winning. [Appreciate the game more?] To appreciate everything in general, played so much in the last few years I needed to go back to county cricket and really enjoy it. Watching the guys at home I really missed it.

“[Bowling improved?] I’ve backed myself for a while, took a lot of confidence from bowling in county cricket, working with Saqlain. [Move to No. 3?] Asked where I wanted to bat and I said three, I enjoyed it but ideally would have made a few more. I feel like I could tighten up a bit, we’ll see, try not to think about it too much.”

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