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Moeen Ali shows his class to get one over the Aussies

By David Clough

Published 10/07/2015

Howzat: England’s Moeen Ali is mobbed by team-mates after taking the wicket of Australia captain Michael Clarke
Howzat: England’s Moeen Ali is mobbed by team-mates after taking the wicket of Australia captain Michael Clarke

Moeen Ali believes Australia are falling into the same trap as India by under-estimating his bowling. The Worcestershire man made his name as a batsman but owes his Test career to his developing off-spin.

England's lack of specialist slow bowlers to take up Graeme Swann's mantle, and Moeen's attractive all-round qualities, mean he is currently being pressed into service as a senior spinner on the international stage - a role he does not regularly perform at county level.

But just as he did in a revelatory series against India last summer, tweaking England to victory with 19 wickets, Moeen struck gold on day two of the Ashes opener in Cardiff.

He dismissed the world's number one batsman Steve Smith and captain Michael Clarke as Australia reached stumps 166 behind on 264 for five.

Asked if he was still being under-rated by batsmen, he said: "One hundred per cent, I think so.

"Both of us spinners will probably get attacked quite a bit, but we always have a chance of getting wickets...it's the nature of the opposition coming at us.

"I'm pretty happy with that. It brings me into the game a bit more. I think we all know that sometimes I'll get wickets, and sometimes go for runs.

"They were two big wickets today, in the context of the game, two very good players."

Smith in particular is a prize scalp. He has been irresistible in the past 18 months and has a reputation as a fine player of spin.

But Moeen got his man on this occasion, drawing Smith down the crease and cramping him for room to execute an ugly dismissal the Australian will not wish to see again.

"He kept using his feet at me, and I almost went a little bit one-day mode - trying to bowl it at his hip, or fire it down the leg-side, and he got himself into a bit of a mess really," Moeen said.

"He's obviously a very good player of spin, very aggressive. He can take you down, but he can also give you a chance - and I'm always telling myself that I'm one ball away from getting a wicket.

"I'm not too fussed about what he's done before. Obviously, I've got a lot of respect for him - but I just try to get him out.

"I hope I can get a couple of wickets then as well, and with the new ball round the corner, it's very important we can get some early."

Australia opener Chris Rogers did the bulk of the scoring in the reply, making a solid 95 before nicking Mark Wood.

That innings made it seven consecutive knocks of fifty or more for the 37-year-old, equalling the Test record.

He could look back on that with a sense of personal pride but was clear about where the balance of power lies.

"As an opener it's important to be consistent and by doing that you're doing a job for the team, so I can feel quite proud of that record I think," he said.

"When I woke up this morning I was pretty nervous so I would probably have taken that 95,

"But England are probably happier in their position at the moment. The wicket is going to possibly deteriorate and it could be hard work at the back end of the match.

"We have to get a lot closer to them and maybe even get a lead, that would be important for us."

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