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England can repeat heroics, says Moeen

By Rory Dollard

Published 25/01/2016

Seven-up: Kagiso Rabada of South Africa takes the wicket of Joe Root on his way to a seven-wicket haul
Seven-up: Kagiso Rabada of South Africa takes the wicket of Joe Root on his way to a seven-wicket haul

Moeen Ali is banking on one last effort from England's seamers to drag them back into contention in the fourth Test against South Africa.

The Proteas ended day three in Centurion firmly in command, bowling the tourists out for 342 as Kagiso Rabada took a career-best seven wickets and closing with a lead of 175.

With just one second-innings wicket down and plenty of batting left in the pavilion, the equation already appears ominous.

On a wearing pitch that first started to show signs of uneven bounce on the second evening, South Africa boast an advantage they should not squander.

Moeen's spin is likely to be part of the equation, but he knows the heavy lifting will have to be done by Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes if England are to have any chance of ending a triumphant tour unbeaten.

It would take something akin to Broad's remarkable six for 17 in Johannesburg to shift the momentum, yet Moeen remains hopeful.

"We're disappointed at the moment but we know there are two important days coming up and we have to be ready," he said.

"We are still going to be positive and try to get something.

"We're a side that have got bowlers who can win us a game, as we saw last week. Hopefully we can do that again.

"We have to attack them when they come in to bat and try to bowl them out quickly.

"We've got two of the best bowlers I've ever played with. We saw at the Wanderers what Broady can do and we obviously know what Jimmy can do, and hopefully they do it again."

Moeen had the chance to assess the pitch from both perspectives, making 61 with the bat as well as sending down two overs before stumps.

And he admitted it had started to misbehave.

"There's a lot of cracks in it," he said. "For someone like Ben Stokes, that's not going to play on his mind too much, but for some batters it might. You just have to deal with it."

Rabada's was the standout performance of the day, returning seven for 112 to make up for the continued absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.

He is the second highest wicket-taker in the series with 16. But at just 20, Rabada was content to play down his achievement.

"I don't think I've arrived yet, there's still a lot of work to be done," he said.

"People keep telling me Test cricket is the real deal and I think I've learned that."

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