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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Moeen Ali thrilled to be back after spinning England to Test series victory against India

Off-spinner takes four wickets in India's second innings as tourists are bowled out for 184

England off-spinner Moeen Ali is congratulated by teammates after dismissing Ajinkya Rahane. Getty Images
England off-spinner Moeen Ali is congratulated by teammates after dismissing Ajinkya Rahane. Getty Images

Moeen Ali spun England to a series win against India after the tourists were the bowled out for 184 in the fourth Test at Southampton on Sunday.

Moeen, a middle-order batsman who doubles up as an off-spinner, took four wickets in India’s second innings to add to his five-wicket haul in the first innings as the hosts won the game by 60 runs.

This gave them an unassailable 3-1 series lead, with the fifth and final Test getting under way at The Oval in London on Friday.

Unsurprisingly Moeen, who also made 40 in England’s first-innings total of 246, was named man of the match.

“Sometimes you can play so much that I felt it was not a bad thing to go back to county cricket,” said Moeen, playing his first Test of the season after being dropped by England following a difficult tour of Australia and New Zealand. “When I was watching the guys at home I knew I really missed it.”

The 31-year-old all-rounder took the prize wicket of India captain Virat Kohli, who fell for 58 a few minutes before tea on the fourth day, with India 126-4 at the interval – still needing a further 119 runs to reach their victory target of 245.

It had seemed as if England had missed a huge chance when Alastair Cook dropped Kohli off Moeen at short leg.

But the very next ball saw Kohli get a thin glove to the off-spinner and this time Cook made no mistake. It was the end a fourth-wicket stand of 101 in more than 42 overs between Kohli and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane that had revived India from 22-3.

Kohli reviewed, but to no avail, before appearing to exchange angry words with Stuart Broad.

Ben Stokes sent Hardik Pandya back to the pavilion after tea, followed by which Moeen chipped in with the wickets of Rahane (51) and Rishabh Pant (18). Stokes then dismissed Ishant Sharma (0) before Moeen struck again, getting the wicket of Mohammed Shami (8).

“We didn’t get the start that we wanted,” Kohli later said. “I would have to say England were relentless with the ball.”

The scale of India’s task was evident from the fact they had only three times scored 200 or more in the fourth innings to win a Test outside of Asia.

And for all that England had suffered 203-run thrashing by India at Trent Bridge last week, it was still a decade since they had last lost successive home Tests following back-to-back defeats by South Africa.

After they were bowled out for 271, England made early inroads into India’s top order. Lokesh Rahul was bowled for a duck by a Broad delivery that kept cruelly low.

James Anderson then struck twice. He had first-innings centurion Pujara lbw for five and his next over saw Shikhar Dhawan (17) well caught in the gully by all-rounder Stokes.

That double strike left paceman Anderson on 559 Test wickets, just four behind retired Australia great Glenn McGrath’s mark of 563, the most taken in Tests by any seamer.

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Virat Kohli was also dismissed by Moeen Ali at Southampton on Sunday. Getty Images
Virat Kohli was also dismissed by Moeen Ali at Southampton on Sunday. Getty Images

India were again looking for another major innings from Kohli, who had already scored two hundreds this series and would pass 500 runs for the campaign during Sunday's innings.

England thought they had Kohli lbw for nine to Moeen.

But after England's review of an original not out decision from Sri Lanka's Kumar Dharmasena, third umpire Joel Wilson ruled there had been an inside edge.

It was a desperately tight call but there was no debate when Rahane (then on 12), was reprieved after falling lbw to left-arm medium-pacer Sam Curran, with replays revealing the ball had struck him outside off-stump.

At lunch, India were 46-3 with Kohli 10 not out and Rahane unbeaten on 13. Kohli had moved on to 15 when he survived another huge lbw appeal from Moeen.

Although he looked out, with the ball striking him low down and in front of the stumps, Dharmasena's decision was upheld on review because the ball had pitched outside off stump with the batsman playing a shot.

Kohli went to fifty with just a third four in 114 balls when he clipped Anderson off his pads through square leg.

Earlier India needed just 19 minutes to dismiss England after they resumed on 260-8.

Shami (4-57) had Broad caught behind for a first-ball nought off Sunday's first ball before Curran was run out for 46.

“The strength of character has always been a massive strength of this team,” elated England captain Joe Root said. “But then the skill level to back it up has been phenomenal.”