Moeen keeps the faith

Moeen Ali is confident England can still emerge from the fourth Test with a positive result despite seeing South Africa take full control on day three at Centurion.

The hosts will take a 175-run lead into the penultimate day after dismissing England for 342 and then closing on 42 for one.

That leaves the tourists with an uphill battle on a surface that is offering plenty of variable bounce and turn, but Moeen believes England can still turn the Test on its head.

“We are obviously behind the game,” the Worcestershire all-rounder told “South Africa played very well today, they bowled really well, and we probably didn’t bat as well.

“It has been our own downfall with dropped catches in the first innings and we are going to have to play extremely well tomorrow and the day after.

“Three hundred, I know it is going to be a really tough chase on this pitch but we have got the batting line-up to do it, 270/280 maybe.

Moeen Ali lifted England to a first-innings 342, a deficit of 133, with 61 from 101 balls at Centurion

“To keep them down to that we are going to have to do extremely well again tomorrow. We have got guys in the dressing room who have done it before – at the Wanderers – so I don’t see why we can’t do it here.”

If England are to keep their victory target within reach, morning-session wickets are vital tomorrow.

“We have got to get Hashim (Amla), (Stephen) Cook and AB (De Villiers) out,” Moeen said. “We feel they are the three big wickets now.

“After that we feel we can attack the new batters when they come in. We are going to have to get some early poles tomorrow and bowl really well.

“We have seen it lately, bowling a good side out on a pitch that is doing a bit. We have got the bowlers to do it, like Broady (Stuart Broad), Jimmy (James Anderson) and Stokesy (Ben Stokes) who is bowling really well. Hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

Moeen will be vital to England’s hopes of skittling the Proteas on a surface that showed signs of sharp turn today.

Moeen, right, helped add 131 runs for the final four wickets before he was last man, caught in the deep off Morne Morkel

“It was good,” he said. “There is quite a bit of spin now so hopefully I can get some wickets tomorrow and contribute to bowling South Africa out.”

Moeen had an important role to play with the bat today, contributing his first half-century of the series to lift England to 342 and ensure their deficit was only 133.

The number eight struck 11 fours in a 101-ball 61 and helped add 131 vital runs for the final four wickets.

“I felt alright, after a while, I struggled early on,” he said. “I have not scored many runs lately, but to get some form and rhythm into my batting was nice. It is nice to be in that situation to play some shots.

“It is one of those pitches where it is not very easy to play your shots. But it is probably the best way to play.”

Source: ECB

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