Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Moeen Facing Key Role With Bat On Final Day Of Headingley Test

Moeen Ali will have a key role to play with the bat if England are to turnaround their fortunes on the final day of the second Investec Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley.

The Worcestershire all-rounder will begin his innings tomorrow morning at 11am with England on 57-5 in pursuit of a victory target of 350.

Paceman Dhammika Prasad did the damage with four wickets for 15 runs before nightwatchman Liam Plunkett fell to the final ball of the day from slow left armer Rangara Herath.

Ali will be accompanied to the wicket by Joe Root (six not out) and much will depend on the sixth wicket pair if England are to have any chance of saving the game.

The New Road favourite did not add to his two wickets on the third day as Sri Lanka reached 457 all out in their second innings,

But he twice came close to adding to the scalps of Kumar Sangakkara and  Lahiru Thirimanne.

Ali was given only one over before lunch but when he finally returned for a second spell England called for a review after an lbw shout against Herath was turned down.

Replays showed the ball to be clipping the very top of the middle stump and as a result Herath survived as it was the umpires call.

Ali then forced a mis-hit shot out of Sri Lankan century-maker Angelo Matthew which fell just short of the deep mid wicket fielder.

But he did play a part in the dismissal of Matthews who, after making 160, hit a full toss from Jimmy Anderson straight into his hands at mid-wicket. 

Ali's double success on the third day came shortly after backing for his bowling skills by former England captain Andrew Strauss in his role as a Sky Sports commentator.

Strauss had said: "It is important England show faith in Moeen Ali. He is not an out and out spinner, he averages about 40 runs a wicket in first class cricket, but he is capable of taking wickets.

"He is no mug. England have got Joe Root who can bowl the occasional over. Moeen Ali is a better bowler than that."