Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

India tour of England: Moeen Ali lands knock-out punch

Moeen dismissed Jadeja, Kumar and Shami in the space of 12 balls, before he aptly took the final scalp of Singh. (Source: AP) Moeen dismissed Jadeja, Kumar and Shami in the space of 12 balls, before he aptly took the final scalp of Singh. (Source: AP)
Written by Sandeep Dwivedi | Southampton | Posted: July 31, 2014 2:19 pm | Updated: August 1, 2014 1:30 am

Leaving behind the noisy and celebrating England dressing room, pacer Chris Jordan ran down the steps leading out on to the Rose Bowl field. Waiting for him in the stands was a member of the production staff. And in his hands were a couple of stumps.

During England’s mad scramble to collect memorabilia after the fall of the final Indian wicket that ushered in a series-levelling 266-run win, Jordan, with only a couple of catches to show in the game, had to be consciously slow during the ritualistic uprooting of stumps. It was only after the two middle-stumps were de-wired by the production crew that the debutant got his souvenir that would remind of Southampton and England’s famous win.

Such was the nature of this Test match, where England had too many performers and too few stumps.

Cook regains poise

From an unsettled side with an unsure leader, the home team went on to gain their balanced look again and are currently led by a born-again captain at helm. On Thursday, after yet another clinical show by England’s bowlers and fielders, India went from 112/4 to 178 all out within a couple of hours.

Last Saturday, on the eve of this Test, Cook had walked alone to the Rose Bowl for a batting session with coach Peter Moores. He was searching for his form, the anti-dote that would save his captaincy. Five days later, he left the venue with runs in his bag and the crown firmly on his head.

As a rule, the winning team tends to have more members in the balcony than the losing side when the award ceremony is on. Rose Bowl on Day Five was no different. So while a few listless members of India’s support staff sat outside the visitors’ dressing room during the medal ceremony, the home corner was crowded with smiling and clapping men listening to captain Alastair Cook talk about “collective effort” and Man of the Match James Anderson announce how “England won each session of the game”.

Everytime Cook took a team-mate’s name, he would receive pats from those seated around him in the balcony. Gary Ballance (156), Ian Bell (167) and Jos Butler (85) all found mentions in the captain’s speech.

Moeen Ali, the part-timer who became a specialist after bagging figures of 6/67, was thanked not just by the skipper but almost everyone at the venue. From the top-tier, beaming mothers hung their scared babies to wave at the bearded spinner. He would sign countless autographs on books, towels and T-shirts. For the second time in this Test match, Ali had sent a message from his wrist.
The Indians had taken Ali’s spinning skills lightly. But now we know who had continued…

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