Moeen Ali staying positive as England struggle in Centurion

Published: Sunday 24th January 2016 by The News Editor

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Moeen Ali is banking on one last effort from England’s seamers to drag them back into contention in the fourth Test against South Africa.

The Proteas ended day three in Centurion firmly in command, bowling the tourists out for 342 as Kagiso Rabada took a career-best seven wickets and closing with a lead of 175.

With just one second-innings wicket down and plenty of batting left in the pavilion, the equation already appears ominous.

On a wearing pitch that first started to show signs of uneven bounce on the second evening, South Africa boast an advantage they should not squander.

Moeen’s spin is likely to be part of the equation, but he knows the heavy lifting will have to be done by James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes if England are to have any chance of ending a triumphant tour unbeaten.

It would take something akin to Broad’s remarkable six for 17 in Johannesburg to shift the momentum of this match, yet Moeen remains hopeful.

“We’re disappointed at the moment but we know there are two important days coming up and we have to be ready,” he said.

“We are still going to be positive and try to get something out of this game.

“We’re a side that have got bowlers who can win us a game, as we saw last week at the Wanderers. Hopefully we can do that again.

“We have to attack them when they come into bat and try bowl them out as quickly as we can.

“We’ve got two of the best bowlers I’ve ever played with. We saw at the Wanderers what Broady can do and we obviously know what Jimmy can do, and hopefully they do it again tomorrow.”

Moeen had the chance to asses the pitch from both perspectives, making 61 with the bat as well as sending down two overs before stumps.

And he admitted it had started to misbehave.

“There’s a lot of cracks in it,” he said.

“For someone like Ben Stokes, that’s probably not going to play on his mind too much, he’ll just play how he plays, but for some batters it might.

“You just have to deal with it and do your best. Obviously it’s going to be tough. There’s a bit of up and down movement and a bit of spin as well.

“But that’s actually good for us going into the first session looking to get the wickets we need.”

Rabada’s was the standout performance of the day, returning seven for 112 to make up for the continued absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander in style.

He is already a crowd favourite and the second highest wicket-taker in the series with 16.

But at just 20 years old, and playing only his sixth Test, Rabada was content to play down his achievement.

“I don’t think I’ve arrived yet, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

“People keep telling me Test cricket is the real deal and I think I’ve learned that.

“I didn’t think I bowled that well, I was okay in spells, but Morne (Morkel) and Abbo (Kyle Abbott) bowled so well. They just kept coming, if they’d got seven maybe they would have deserved it more than I did.”

With Abbott nursing a sore hamstring Rabada may have plenty more work in front of him to secure a first Test win, but was also encouraged by the pitch.

“I’m not sure about Abbo, if he’s going to be bowling, if he doesn’t we have to bowl more overs,” he added.

“We are in a good position, we’ve got a strong lead and the wicket is deteriorating. It’s not going to be easy to bat last on this wicket so we need to keep building on this lead and take it deep.”

Published: Sunday 24th January 2016 by The News Editor

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