Moeen Ali hailed Dawid Malan’s “crucial knock” as England turned up the heat on Windies on day four of the second Test, at Headingley.
Malan’s 61 off 186 balls was the slowest of the five fifties in England’s 490-8 declared but provided the platform for Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Ali (84 off 93) in particular to build a strong position.
“We showed fantastic fight with the bat and to have that lead is gold,” said Ali, after England set Windies 322 to earn a series-levelling victory.
“We wanted a lead of around 180 so to have this one is fantastic. They’ve bowled quite well in this game and we wanted to counter in the last session and that’s exactly what we did.
“We felt like Dawid Malan’s 61 was a fantastic innings – he struggled at times but some of the shots he played were beautiful.
“It’s a massive knock. Sometimes everyone else gets the accolades but his knock was crucial for us.”
Malan’s second fifty in four Tests was significant not only in terms of his own career with the Ashes on the horizon this winter but in the context of the match, enabling England to press on after erasing their first-innings deficit of 169.
An eighth-wicket stand of 117 between Ali and Woakes then gave Windies the runaround.
“I felt quite good before tea and me and Woaksey felt we’d just try and build that lead because the more it goes up the more their heads would go down.
“We felt like they were a little bit tired as well and the work that the boys put in earlier was brilliant for us to counter. The plan worked beautifully.”
Ali’s latest match-changing contribution of a stellar summer showcased his free-scoring style and although he fell without clearing the rope, the left-hander said he’d continue to play with a positive mindset.
England vs W Indies
August 29, 2017, 10:30am
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“I sometimes go out there and think: ‘I’m not going to score any runs here’. But today’s situation was one I have been in before, trying to hit boundaries and play in a carefree fashion.
“I put myself in the shoes of the fielding side and think what they don’t want – somebody to come out and hit boundaries, almost see ball, hit ball to try and take the momentum away.”
Windies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell successfully negotiated six overs before stumps, scoring five runs, but Ali is confident England can turn the screw on the tourists on day five.
“I am looking forward to bowling and hopefully getting some wickets,” he said. “There has been spin throughout the game.
“When I was batting, I was thinking about getting more runs to give me more to play with when I bowled and not have that extra pressure.”
Live coverage of the second Test between England and Windies continues from 10.30am on Tuesday on Sky Sports Cricket with over-by-over commentary and in-play video clips on Sky Sports digital platforms.