Moeen Ali celebrates Test return with five-wicket haul as England's titanic tussle with India takes another turn

Moeen Ali celebrated his return to Test cricket and a ‘fresh start’ with yet another five-wicket haul in what is proving to be an epic battle with India.

In a series that is providing more twists and turns than a Theresa May dance recital, Moeen’s 5-63 was the perfect way to mark his first Test for five months and banish the memories of a difficult winter.

And it was another man, India and Yorkshire batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who wasn’t involved at the start of the series who provided the resistance to score a brave and brilliant 132 not out, his first ton in England.

But on the ground where he took six wickets against India as a Test newbie in 2014, it was Moeen who gave fans the most to shout about as England only coughed up a 27 run lead.

Moeen Ali celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Mohammed Shami

Ali celebrates after bowling Ravi Ashwin

“It is a fresh start for me and you just try and perform,” said Moeen. “And with what happened last time that gave me a lot of confidence.

“It is about believing that you’re not a bad player after one bad winter. Many players have gone through it and for me it was about moving on and becoming a better player and stronger character as a result.

“I’ve moved on and it is about going out and performing for my country knowing that I can do well here in England and I’ve done it before.

“Yeah it was a bad winter but these things can happen to anybody. You have to put things into perspective because Australia is always a difficult place for foreign spinners.”

Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates reaching a century

Stripped of confidence and belief Down Under the 31-year-old looked a shadow of the man who had enjoyed stellar summers with bat and ball over the past two years.

But a double ton and six wickets for Worcestershire last week meant that Moeen arrived in Southampton ready for action and full of belief.

“I’ve loved being back with Worcestershire and having a bit of a break,” he added. “And it is always nice to get a call up when you’re in a bit of nick with bat and ball. That is what county cricket is supposed to do.”

It wasn’t just about one all rounder though as the joint efforts of three of them made the difference on a day when Virat Kohli celebrated his 6,000 run in Test cricket and appeared set to add plenty more.

Moeen Ali is congratulated by Joe Root and Jos Buttler

Virat Kohli at the end of play

The Indian skipper has been the best batsman on either side all series, but he had no answer to the golden arm of Sam Curran who tempted him into a drive and an edge for Alastair Cook to collect, and it sparked their collapse from 142-2 to 195-8.

Ben Stokes followed up with the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane and hit Pujara on the helmet too, but Moeen took up the charge in a game that remains finely balanced.


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