Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Moeen Helps Put England on Top

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Moeen Helps Put England on Top

Article excerpt

ENGLAND remain strong favourites to win the fourth Investec Test after Moeen Ali's late strokeplay arrested their secondinnings slide.

Even as doubts multiplied over future batting personnel after a succession of incumbents fluffed their lines in tough conditions on day three at Old Trafford, England recovered from a faltering 153 for seven to 224 for eight - ensuring a ground-record target for South Africa, with a lead of 360 in the bag by the time long-forecast rain brought an early close.

Moeen (67no) benefited from good fortune when he was badly dropped at slip by Dean Elgar off Keshav Maharaj on 15, to hit seven fours and two sixes in a 49-ball halfcentury and revive England following a fine second spell from Duanne Olivier (three for 38).

Out-of-form opener Keaton Jennings and, below him, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan at numbers three and five in their second Tests, had all gone cheaply in an innings propped up initially by the ultra-consistent Joe Root - who fell short of his second halfcentury of the match by only a single.

Jennings mustered 18, rounding out his series average at 15.88 in eight innings, while Westley and Malan's respective nine and six followed innings of 29 and 18 first time round here.

England have just three Tests against the West Indies in which to settle on their lineup for this winter's Ashes squad, and it is entirely reasonable to say they can be no clearer yet about the staffing of much of their top and middle order.

In the immediate term, they can be reassured by a match position from which - weather permitting - they still have an obvious chance to close out a 3-1 series success. It was Stuart Broad (three for 46) who ended the South Africa innings on 226 when he, rather than the man the crowd craved, made the final breakthrough - therefore denying his pace partner James Anderson a maiden five-wicket haul at his home venue.

The feat would have had extra resonance for England's all-time leading wicket-taker, of course, having had the pavilion end renamed in his honour before the start of this match.

It took England 22 deliveries to take the 10th wicket, for the addition of six runs, when number 11 Olivier mishooked Broad for a steepling catch to Jonny Bairstow -after which it was over to Alastair Cook and Jennings to try to augment the advantage. …

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