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Ali spins England to equaliser

Offspinner’s 6 for 67 sends India tumbling to 178 all out as England levels series with 266-run win

Ali spins England to equaliser - Cricket News
Moeen Ali picked up 6 for 67.

After the glory, the ignominy. Less than a fortnight after a famous victory at Lord’s, India slumped to a crushing 266-run defeat at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Resuming at 112 for 4 after having been set 445 for victory, it was bundled out for just 178 before lunch on the final day. Moeen Ali, whose offspin has been treated with scant respect right through the series, finished with 6 for 67, including a spell of 3 for 1 from 12 balls that hastened the end on Thursday (July 31).

For India to have any chance of saving the game, it needed the overnight batsmen to stitch together a substantial partnership. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma had added 23 on the fourth evening, but the ninth ball of the day ensured that the association would go no further. James Anderson, wicketless up to that point, pitched one on offstump and there was a sound as the ball went past the outside edge. The fielders’ response was spontaneous and though Rohit stood his ground, Rod Tucker raised the finger.

Anderson, with 5 for 53 in the first innings, bowled with pace and immaculate control, and it was only a matter of time before he snared Mahendra Singh Dhoni as well. A ball after deflecting one through the slip cordon for four, Dhoni poked at one that swung away from him. Jos Buttler moved swiftly to his right to hold on to the chance.

Rahane defended stoutly while waiting for the loose ball to put away, while Ravindra Jadeja swished at the odd delivery before settling down. Twice, he carved Ali through the offside for fours, but when one was tossed up fairly full, Jadeja could only york himself via the inside edge.

That 32-run stand was as good as India’s morning got. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a thorn in England’s side with the bat all tour, lasted only four balls, well caught by Anderson at short gully after an inside edge popped up off the pad. And when Mohammed Shami was flummoxed by an off break that pegged back leg stump, Ali had his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.

Rahane, the lone man to swim against the tide, remained unbeaten on 52 at the end as India went down with a flurry of boundaries. It had all the impact of spitting into the rain.

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