Moeen Ali helped England hit back on Day Three of the second Test at Headingley against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Moeen Ali helped England hit back on Day Three of the second Test at Headingley against Sri Lanka © Getty Images

By Julian Guyer

Leeds: Jun 22, 2014

England off-spinner Moeen Ali was pleased to have made a telling contribution with the ball on the third day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley on Sunday. The series decider was finely balanced at the end of Day Three, with Sri Lanka 106 runs ahead with six second-innings wickets standing. But the tourists would have been in an even stronger position had not Ali, primarily a batsman, dismissed Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne in the space of three balls.

It was a heartening sight for England as they adjust to life without Graeme Swann following their one-time leading spinner’s retirement during the Ashes series whitewash in Australia. “It was nice to contribute to the side, to bring us back into the game because Sri Lanka were playing really well at the time and to do it in that way was great,” Ali said after stumps.

“I was just trying to bowl as straight as I could to Sangakkara, bowl a dot ball really,” the Worcestershire all-rounder added. “He’s taken me down a couple of times already but I was just trying to do a job for the team and thankfully it came off.” Ali said he’d already picked Swann’s brain in a bid to improve his bowling.

“He’s been one of best spinners in world for the last seven or eight years. I’ve spoken to him here and there and he tries to give me lots of confidence. He’s told me to just enjoy it and enjoy playing for England all the time,” said Ali.

Swann didn’t bowl the doosra, the ball that turns away from the right-handed batsman rather than towards him as with a standard off-break. Ali, by contrast, who has been working with Pakistan’s doosra expert Saeed Ajmal, a county colleague at Worcestershire, revealed on Sunday that he had bowled a doosra during the third day’s play.

“Yeah, I bowled one. I was feeling pretty confident so I thought ‘why not?’,” he said. “It’s the first one I’ve bowled. I just wanted to do a job for the team first because I’m not as confident with the red ball as I am with the white ball,” Ali said.