England all-rounder Moeen Ali believes his side have gone some way to breaking the resolve of West Indies after a resilient batting display set the tourists an unlikely 322 for victory in the second Test at Headingley.
Moeen’s counter-attacking 84 boosted England’s lead and allowed the hosts to declare their second innings on 490-8 during the dying embers of day four. There were also half-centuries for Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes.
The declaration left West Indies with a nervy six-over spell to navigate before the close, which they did to finish on 5-0, needing another 317 runs to level the three-match series at 1-1.
England can claim a series-clinching win with 10 wickets on Tuesday, while it would be only the 20th occasion on which a team has triumphed having conceded a first-innings lead of more than 150.
“It was a fantastic day. The fight we showed throughout the day was great and to have that lead is gold,” said Moeen, who shared an 117-run stand with Woakes for the eighth wicket.
“Realistically we were thinking maybe 180 at one point but to have this lead is fantastic. We just felt we wanted to get some overs in their legs and hopefully counter in the last session and that’s exactly what we did.
“I put myself in the shoes of the fielding side and thought ‘what do they not want now’ and it was someone to come out and look to hit boundaries and be carefree, see ball hit ball, and try and take the momentum away.
“At tea, we felt we had them a little bit and another 40-50 run partnership at that time was crucial, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Moeen was quick to praise the contribution of Middlesex’s Dawid Malan, who pressed his case to bat at No5 in this winter’s Ashes tour of Australia.
Malan was by no means fluent, in fact it was his slowest first-class half-century – he hit just seven fours during his 186-ball vigil at the crease – but the 29-year-old’s doggedness was evident as he notched his second Test 50.
“It might have looked like he struggled a bit but some of the shots he played were beautiful,” added Moeen. “It’s a massive knock and sometimes everyone else gets the accolades but that was crucial for us.”
England were progressing solidly during the afternoon until spinner Roston Chase claimed three quick-fire wickets, dismissing Stokes for 58, Malan for 61 and then Jonny Bairstow for 18.
The latter of those united Moeen and Woakes. England added 133 in 28 overs during the final session with Woakes proving the perfect foil for Moeen. He eventually finished unbeaten on 61.