England allrounder Moeen Ali had a tough time in Australia during the Ashes series, as the right-arm off-spinner failed to contribute with too many wickets, and was neither among the runs for the visitors. But after claiming a fifer on the second day of the 4th Test against India, the 31-year-old insisted that a bad winter does not make him a bad player. Speaking to reporters at the press conference after the match, Ali said, “It is about believing you are not a bad player after one bad winter. Many players have gone through that. For me, it was about moving on and hoping it made me a better player, a stronger character.”
Ali was the primary architect of destruction for England and was responsible for causing a middle-order collapse of India. It looked India will get well over England’s 1st innings total of 246 when Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli added 93 runs for the third wicket. But after Kohli’s dismissal, Ali wreaked havoc and dismissed Ajinkya Rahane (11), Rishabh Pant (0), Hardik Pandya (3), R (Ashwin) and Mohammed Shami (0) to leave India reeling at 195/8.
Ali added that he knew he has to perform for his country at home, and he knew he has done it before. “It was about going out there performing for my country knowing I can do well here in England because I have done it before. Yes, it was a bad winter but I shrugged it off,” he said.
“Australia is a difficult place for a foreign spinner, no matter who you are. For me, it was about getting over that and coming back knowing I have played India in England before, done well and there was no reason why not again,” he added.
The right-armer further went on to add that he has recognised in the role in the team which has helped him. “This role is my best, batting [No7] and as a second spinner. It gives me confidence and freedom, and I end up playing better,” he said.
Ali’s first five-wicket haul in Test cricket came against India back in 2014 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. He said his past experiences on the surface also gave him the confidence. “Last time I was here, it gave me a bit of confidence for today. It brings back memories and it’s nice to have that in the back of your mind. It was great to be back and have so many people cheer for you,” he said.
With Cheteshwar Pujara scoring a hundred, India manage to get out of a slump and take a lead of 27 runs before being bowled out. England finished the day with a score of 6/0 and Ali added that setting a huge target for the visitors will be difficult with the surface helping bowlers. “That will be difficult against their bowlers but we will have to fight hard to win this series here. After my first over I thought I would be in the game throughout this Test match, which was nice,” he said.