It is not often that ODI cricket generates the buzz and hype of T20 ..." /> Moeen Ali's breathtaking hundred takes the wind out of West Indies | CricketSoccer

Eng v WI Moeen-Ali-100

Published on September 25th, 2017 | by Rohit Sankar

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Moeen Ali’s breathtaking hundred takes the wind out of West Indies

🕓 Reading time: 3 minutes

It is not often that ODI cricket generates the buzz and hype of T20 cricket. But England have managed to ooze that kind of energy in One Day Internationals ever since they put together a revamped ODI squad since the 2015 World Cup in Australia.

The team has a slew of big-hitters and game changers akin to the West Indies T20 side and when these two teams lock horns in ODIs action is guaranteed. With England having won the first ODI and the second ODI washed out, the teams were itching to have a good at each other at Bristol.

Windies opted to bowl first only to watch the elegant Joe Root and extravagant Ben Stokes go hammer and tongs in a 132 run partnership. But Stokes and Buttler fell in quick succession as Moeen Ali walked into the wicket. Joe Root followed soon after as West Indies asserted their comeback by reducing England to 217/6.

The onus was on Moeen Ali to change things around with the bat. In recent times, the Worcestershire all-rounder has been more talked about for his bowling skills. A wily off-spinner with some smart tricks up his sleeve, his bowling had all but completely overshadowed his primary quality, a batsman.  

His 61 matches in One Day cricket have yielded just 1296 runs at an average hovering below the 30 mark. There have only been three hundreds in his International One-Day career with the two others coming when he opened the batting. Batting in the lower middle-order and virtually the tail, Ali has had little opportunities to showcase his ability with the bat in recent times.

But today, he had a chance to change things around and grabbed it with both hands. In the company of Chris Woakes, Ali nudged and tucked his way to a run a ball 39. But what unfolded next left the crowd gasping in awe. In the next fourteen deliveries, Moeen Ali smacked 61 runs including a jaw-dropping eight sixes, racing to his hundred in 53 balls, the second fastest by any England player in ODIs.

Only two other batsmen had managed to score hundreds after walking in past the 30th over in ODIs – AB de Villiers (thrice) and Glenn Maxwell.

At the start of the 45th over, Ali was on 39 off as many balls with England at 276/6. But then the carnage began. In the 45th over bowled by Miguel Cummins, Moeen Ali smashed three sixes, two over mid-wicket and one over deep square-leg, and a four.

In the next over, he took on Jason Holder for three consecutive sixes, two of them again coming over the mid-wicket fence. He ended the over with a powerful shot down the ground for four. 50 runs had come in two overs and Ali had raced to 87 in 49 balls. Although Woakes departed, Ali continued his six-hitting spree, smashing Cummins for two more over the fence to bring up the second fastest hundred by an England batsman.

“Playing in the side regularly, training with international players and playing against international players, has helped my game so much, I feel my batting and bowling is improving all the time”, Ali revealed after the match.

The all-rounder has had a brilliant summer with the South African Test series being the pinnacle. He smashed over 250 runs and picked up 25 wickets in the four-match Test series. But his One Day form had never hit a peak. Ali carried the confidence from the big summer into his One Day game.

It’s been good for my confidence. I know there will be tough times ahead, and I try not to get too over-confident, but I’ve played quite a bit for England now and the experience has allowed me stay focused on what’s to come”, Ali added.

England have plethora of hitters in their middle-order with skipper Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes hogging the limelight more often than not. Although a pretty good striker of the ball himself, Ali hasn’t been required to do that job often in One Day cricket.

“As a kid, sixes were a regular thing, but only playing first-class and international cricket, I never saw myself as that sort of player,” he said. “But the ground wasn’t the biggest and I felt like they bowled a little bit in the slot. I just had a slog really, everything seemed to come off, I tried to watch the ball, keep my shape and really go for it.”

Watching the ball and striking through the line might seem quite easy on paper but to execute it to the level with which Ali did at Bristol is near impossible. Although a small ground, Ali looked invincible on the leg-side, dispatching anything marginally full or short over mid-wicket or square-leg.

“I was in the zone and everything was coming off”, Ali concluded. For the Bristol crowd, which usually doesn’t get many T20I matches, it was an exhibition of six-hitting by Moeen Ali. It caps off his outstanding summer in England colours.

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mm

A cricket enthusiast striving to convey the finer details of the game in a capsule. I hope to present a bird's eye view of the game as I see it to the readers. PS: I am smitten by the likes of ABD but crush on pace bowlers who can make the ball talk.



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