All-rounder Moeen Ali believes the pendulum is swinging England’s way after his counter-punch knock of 67 not out propelled his side to a position of strength on day three of the fourth Investec Test against South Africa.
Moeen treated the Old Trafford crowd to a lower-order masterclass by smashing eight fours and three sixes to lead England’s recovery from a precarious 153-7 in their second innings to 224-8 at the close.
England lead by 360 runs which means South Africa already need to break the record for the highest successful run-chase in a Test match on the ground to level the four-match series at 2-2.
“We’ve put pressure on them and the match has turned our way,” said Moeen. “I like to entertain myself and everybody else when I am in that rhythm and mood.”
Moeen is only the second England Test player, behind Sir Ian Botham against India in 1979, to score more than 200 runs and take 20 wickets in a four-match series.
Andrew Flintoff was the last player to achieve the feat during the 2005 Ashes, although that was across five games. Despite his heroics, Moeen still appears more comfortable viewing himself as a batting all-rounder who operates as a second spinner.
“I feel that now I have played quite a bit of Test cricket and my batting and bowling are getting closer together,” added Moeen. “The one thing that gives me the most enjoyment is bowling in the last innings.”
South Africa added just six runs to their overnight total before Duanne Olivier top-edged a pull off Stuart Broad to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow as the Proteas were dismissed for 226.
Aside from Moeen, skipper Joe Root was the main contributor to the England cause with a knock of 49, while there was no respite for struggling opener Keaton Jennings who could only make 18.