England v Pakistan: Moeen Ali century leads hosts' recovery in fourth Test

By Justin GouldingBBC Sport
Fourth Test, Kia Oval, day one
England 328: Moeen 108, Bairstow 55; Sohail 5-68
Pakistan 3-1: Broad 1-2
Pakistan trail by 325 runs

Moeen Ali's fine century helped England recover to post 328 on an entertaining opening day in the final Test against Pakistan at The Oval.

Dropped on nine and 15, Moeen made 108, Jonny Bairstow 55 and Chris Woakes 45 as England rallied from 110-5.

Sohail Khan claimed 5-68 and Wahab Riaz 3-93 for Pakistan, who must win to draw the four-match series 2-2.

They lost Sami Aslam in reaching 3-1 in the three overs possible before the close, trailing by 325.

Stuart Broad's late strike, allied to a last-wicket stand of 32 between Moeen and James Anderson, gave England the edge after a day that saw 331 runs scored at a rate of more than four an over.

Moeen rides to England's rescue

If Bairstow initiated England's recovery from 70-4 and Woakes supplied impetus in a partnership of 73 for the sixth wicket, Moeen combined the best elements of both innings en route to a third Test century.

His place in the side has been questionedexternal-link this summer, but the all-rounder underlined his worth with a 140-ball century high on class and no little character.

Struck on the helmet first ball by a Wahab bouncer, he capitalised on his early reprieves to hit 13 fours, scoring freely through and over the leg side as he used his feet to good effect against the spinners.

Debutant Iftikhar Ahmed was hoisted over mid-wicket for six and, with number 11 Anderson for company, Moeen repeated the feat off Yasir Shah to reach three figures and bring team-mates and spectators to their feet.

Even the timing of Moeen's dismissal - caught off a top-edged pull off Sohail in the final half-hour of play - worked in the favour of England's bowlers.

Moeen Ali wagon wheel
Moeen Ali scored 74 runs on the leg side

Pakistan pay the price in the field

A glance at the scorecard suggests Pakistan, having lost the toss, could be pleased with bowling England out in a day on a "600 pitch", in the words of former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott.

However, they will rue the mistakes in the field which cost them 142 runs:

  • Alastair Cook dropped on 34 - Iftikhar spills a straightforward chance at first slip off Wahab. Cost: one run.
  • Bairstow caught off no-ball on 13 - Wahab overtsteps to reprieve the England player after driving to backward point. Cost: 42 runs.
  • Moeen dropped on nine - Azhar Ali drops an edge low to his right at third slip off Mohammad Amir. Cost: 99 runs.
  • Moeen dropped on 15 - clipped firmly off his legs and Azhar, at short leg, cannot hold on to one that barely qualifies as a chance.

"Again, at a vital time, we dropped vital catches," said Pakistan spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed. "It would have been a different ball game."

The figures of Wahab - recalled to the side after being dropped for the third-Test defeat at Edgbaston - were therefore even more impressive, while Sohail was rewarded for his aggressive line with a five-wicket haul for the second successive Test.

Moeen Ali graphic

England's top order wobbles again

Wahab was the chief architect in England's top-order collapse, having Joe Root and James Vince caught behind playing off the back foot in the space of three balls before locating Gary Ballance's edge after lunch.

Opener Alex Hales had earlier fallen to a controversial catch by Yasir at square-leg, given out by the third umpire despite an apparent lack of conclusive evidence that the ball had carried, while captain Alastair Cook played on for 35 attempting to pull Sohail.

Hales, Vince and Ballance managed 15 runs between them, doing little to settle the debate over their long-term England future.

Of the nine hundreds England have scored in 2016, four have been made from number seven, two from number six and only three from the top five combined.

Bairstow batted with typical energy as he and Moeen led the England counter-attack, before Woakes struck eight fours in his 57-ball 45.

Although Sohail had Woakes caught behind despite a review, and trapped Broad lbw in the same over, Moeen and Anderson's last-wicket alliance lifted England even before their success with the ball.

'Today was played at 150mph' - what they said

England centurion Moeen Ali: "From where we were, we've done well. It was a massive bonus from being 110-5.

"It makes a big difference batting deep. The 30 runs that me and Jimmy put on makes a difference. We took the momentum into our bowling and getting that wicket was perfect."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special: "It's like the game has been played at 150mph today. It's been a fascinating day - frantic but wonderfully entertaining."

Ex-England spinner Phil Tufnell: "That was a brilliant day's cricket: early wickets in the morning, England fighting back in the afternoon, England just on top at the close."

Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott: "Cook, Hales and Root played poor shots, but Moeen Ali took the game away from Pakistan - he had a lovely range of shots.

"There's nothing in the world as strong as England's middle order when they've got Stokes, Bairstow and Moeen playing."

The stats you may have missed

  • This is Alastair Cook's 133rd Test, equalling Alec Stewart's England record; it is also his 52nd as captain, second only to Michael Atherton's 54 for England.
  • Since 2012, England have never lost a Test in England when batting first, winning 12 and drawing two of their 14 matches.
  • Joe Root has scored 473 runs in four Tests, the most by an England batsman in a series against Pakistan, beating Denis Compton's record of 453 from 1954.
  • Jonny Bairstow has scored 911 runs in 2016 - among wicketkeepers, only AB de Villiers (933) and Andy Flower (1,045) have managed more in a calendar year.

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