Home > Features >

Moeen Ali spins India into trouble: Will he stun them again on Day 5 at Southampton?

Mooen Ali has been pivotal for England by picking up crucial wickets © Getty Images

Moeen Ali took two wickets in the final session on Day Four to give England the advantage in the third Test at Southampton. In the process, he became the bowler with the best strike rate for England in the series. Shiamak Unwalla looks at how someone who was considered a mere part-timer has become the bane of the Indian side.

There are some stereotypes in cricket that aren’t easily broken. Australians are often clinical. South Africans are consistent, but are “chokers” in knockout games. West Indies play with that typical flair. Pakistan is a factory of fast-bowling which produces masters of reverse swing. And Indians are great players of spin. Indian batsmen have traditionally suffered in England. The conditions are far from familiar. The ball swings a lot and bounces more; the pitches are quicker. English fast bowlers are hostile. And of course, India do not play pace too well in conditions that aid that kind.

And yet, of the four Indian wickets that fell in the final session of Day Four, three were to spinners. The other was a run-out. This on a deck flat enough that England could pile on 569 without being bowled out. The pitch holds no demons. So far in the second innings, the pace bowlers have bowled without success. One of them — Chris Jordan — bowled without any direction either.

That India is four wickets down is due to a run out, Shikhar Dhawan’s questionable technique, and Moeen Ali; that enigmatic part-time tweaker who no one expected to succeed against a line-up that is historically adept at playing spin. What Moeen has done repeatedly in the series is take periodic wickets. What India have done consistently, is play him badly.

Two shots played by two different batsmen immediately come to mind. Stuart Binny tried to hoick him away for a six very early on in his innings in the second Test at Lord’s, and holed out in the process. And then Virat Kohli, showing him tremendous respect, kept blocking till one of his forward defensives found the edge.

In both these cases, the batsmen played Moeen particularly badly. Binny perhaps thought that he was not good enough to bowl, and tried to dismiss him from his presence. Kohli held him in such high esteem that he played him with a view to defend rather than score runs. India has been dealing with Moeen in extremes throughout the series. They have either been overly aggressive or overly defensive against him, and have just not played him on his merit.

To be fair to Moeen though, he has bowled consistently and accurately. He is proving to be a more than useful off-spinner, and certainly a long-term all-round prospect for England. That being said, he still has a long way to go with both bat and ball, but he has shown enough to be taken seriously as a bowler — just not as seriously as Kohli did.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton


South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run


Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai


AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Pakistan on top against Australia at Lunch on Day 3 despite David Warner century

Andrew Flintoff excited about upcoming Big Bash League stint with Brisbane Heat

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Sarfraz Ahmed wants ton to result in win

New Zealand vs South Africa 2014: AB de Villiers commends Kiwi’s last-wicket partership

Jermaine Lawson inspires United States to an emphatic win over Bermuda

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Don Bradman — even if every chance he ever gave in his career was accepted, he would still remain head and shoulders above the others

Len Hutton’s hundred gets reported as illness

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here