I owed the team some runs - Moeen Ali
England all-rounder Moeen Ali said that he was due a big score following a poor string of knocks with the bat, after hitting a career best unbeaten knock of 155 runs in the first innings of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Durham.
Prior to the half-century in Centurion against South Africa in January, Ali’s last fifty-plus score came against Australia during the 2015 Ashes at Edgbaston.
The knock in Durham was also Ali’s first Test century since his maiden hundred in 2014, which incidentally also came up against Sri Lanka in Leeds.
Prior to Ali’s arrival at the crease, Sri Lanka had restricted England to 227 for five after removing Joe Root and James Vince early in the final session of the first day.
It was Ali’s counterattacking knock which gave England the boost as they raked up a total of 498 for eight before declaring their innings.
Speaking about his 207-ball knock, Ali said that he was due for runs and added that it was a good feeling to have contributed when the team needed it.
“It is about time really and I feel like I owed the team some runs and to do it today was a great feeling,” he told Sky Sports.
“I struggled a bit this morning for the first half an hour, but once I got in… I have actually been feeling alright, but I just had not really spent the time in the middle.”
In his two-year-old career, Ali has batted lower down the order in the majority of his innings and the 28-year-old knows that he needs to get some runs under his belt to warrant a promotion into the top-order.
“I think batting at No 8 you do not really get your batting head on and that is quite difficult sometimes.
“When I spoke to ‘Chef’ (Alastair Cook) the evening before the game, he told me I was going to bat at No 7 and to just play my natural game and how I normally play at Worcester.
“I actually enjoy batting No 6, but it has not really fazed me too much when they have asked me to bat at No 8, I am pretty happy.
“And when they told me I am batting at No 7, I was obviously very happy as well.
“I am going to have to get some scores if I want to go up the order.
“I have been pretty average with the bat to be honest with you, but hopefully I can keep batting well.”
Ali shared two crucial stands worth 92 and 72 with Chris Woakes and Steven Finn respectively and he admitted that he spoke to the likes of Root to have a better idea of batting with the lower order.
“If it was not for the way the guys batted, I would not have got the runs and Finny has been playing quite well,” he said.
“I was not sure before lunch how I was going to bat with the tail and then I spoke to ‘Rooty’ [Joe Root] and a few of the guys and I had a bit more of an idea.”
Sri Lanka’s poor efforts in the field on the second day helped Ali as he was dropped twice in the innings, once early when he came on and later on just after going past his hundred.
However, Ali has asserted that he will be looking to play in a positive manner and back his instincts whenever he comes out to bat.
“Most of the time, when I have batted a bit of time, I am quite loose and I enjoy batting that way.
“I like playing with a bit of freedom and if I see it, I just go for it and it is something I have tried to tighten up a bit and I have done over the years.
“But I just accept it, carry on and forget about it pretty quickly.
“I have been getting out caught at cover in the one-dayers and I feel it is a strength and a weakness.
“But I am just going to carry on playing and enjoy seeing the ball and hitting it and back my instinct a bit.”
After the terrific batting performance, the England bowlers left no stone unturned to make life difficult for Sri Lanka’s batting line up.
None of the Sri Lankan batsmen were able to post a good score and three-wicket hauls from Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes left the visitors reeling at 91 for eight at stumps on day two.
Ali is backing England to impose the follow-on once again and is looking to get a few wickets as well as he feels that the pitch will aid spin bowling from the third day onwards.
“It was perfect, especially the way we bowled towards the end there and to have them eight down has been a brilliant evening, but it has been a brilliant day.
“Going by the way we have been bowling, I think we would try and bowl them out tomorrow and then make them follow on again.
“It will be really tough as it is a slowish pitch, but the guys have bowled brilliantly.
“We felt yesterday that it was going to spin a little bit because of the tackiness, but hopefully as the games goes on, there will be a little bit more spin and hopefully I can get some wickets as well.”
If England go on to win the ongoing second Test, they will claim a bilateral series against Sri Lanka for the first time since their previous win in 2011.
© Cricket World 2016