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Moeen Ali took England out of danger on Day 1 of 4th Test at The Oval © Getty Images

England‘s Moeen Ali said he would have dropped himself earlier this season after his hundred left the team well-placed in the fourth Test against Pakistan. Day One at The Oval saw Moeen walk out to bat with England struggling at 110 for five after captain Alastair Cook had won the toss. But Moeen’s 108 helped England to a total of 328 before he was last man out. There was still time before stumps for England, 2-1 up in the four-Test series, to remove Sami Aslam, lbw to Stuart Broad and leave Pakistan in trouble at three for one come the close. Moeen was named man-of-the-match in the third Test at Edgbaston after his two fifties helped set up a 141-run win. Full Cricket Scorecard, England  vs  Pakistan , 4th Test match

But although he made his name in county cricket as a top-order batsman, Moeen has found himself deployed by England primarily as their lone specialist spinner. It is not a role he has always enjoyed. Moeen took just two wickets during Pakistan’s 75-run win in the first Test at Lord’s.That same match also saw the 29-year-old Worcestershire  all-rounder give his wicket away in England’s second innings when he was bowled by leg-spinner Yasir Shah after recklessly charging down the pitch. Cook and the England management kept faith with off-spinner Moeen. ALSO READ: Broad, Hales could face disciplinary action

“I have to thank the selectors and captain Cook, because I probably would not have picked myself at that stage. It was fifty-fifty but they stuck with me. At Lord’s I was not on it and I was really embarrassed. That is when I decided to bat properly again, and I have worked on my defence with batting coach Mark Ramprakash. I was sick and tired of not scoring many runs for England; it was a little bit embarrassing”, said the left-hander after stumps on Day One at The Oval.

This was third of Moeen’s Test centuries and the second of his season after his 155 not out against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street in May 2016. “I think this was the best of my three Test hundreds. It will mean even more if we can go on and win the match and the series. I feel I have made an impact with the bat and I hope I can do the same with the ball,” added Moeen, who earlier in the series worked with Saqlain Mushtaq after the former Pakistan off-spinner was brought in by England as a temporary coaching consultant. Day 1 Report: PAK trail ENG by 325 runs at stumps of 4th Test

For Pakistan, this was yet another day where a sloppy fielding display proved costly. Ali should have been out for nine but Azhar Ali dropped a routine slip catch. Meanwhile Jonny Bairstow, who eventually made 55, was caught off a Wahab Riaz no-ball — one of seven in the innings from the recalled left-arm quick — on 13.

“Of course we missed opportunities and good teams do not make mistakes like dropping catches. But there are four days to go and hopefully we can bat well in our first innings,” said Pakistan bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed in conclusion.