Moeen Ali’s rapid 84 helped England turn the tide on the fourth day of the second Test against the West Indies at Headingley on Monday. At stumps, the West Indies were five without loss in their second innings, needing a further 317 runs to reach a challenging victory total of 322.
Only one side have made more in the fourth innings to win a Test at Headingley, with Australia’s celebrated ‘Invincibles’ scoring 404/3 at the Leeds ground in 1948 thanks mainly to opener Arthur Morris’s 182 and an unbeaten 173 from Donald Bradman, widely regarded as cricket’s greatest batsman.
West Indies did make 344/1 to beat England in a Test at Lord’s in 1984, with opener Gordon Greenidge making 214 not out, but they will likely need a similarly brilliant innings from one of their current top order if they are to level this three-match series at 1-1.
It was fresh evidence of England’s batting strength in depth that No 8 Ali top-scored and put on 117 for the eighth wicket with No 9 Chris Woakes, the recalled all-rounder himself making 61 not out before England captain Joe Root declared with his side on 490 for eight.
That left the West Indies with a tricky six overs to bat until the close but openers Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell survived. The whole day’s play represented a remarkable turnaround in the match given the West Indies had a first-innings lead of 169 runs – a testament to a vastly improved batting and bowling, if not fielding, display after their embarrassing innings and 209-run defeat in the first Test at Edgbaston.
Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel proved expensive, however, today, his 26 overs costing 125 runs – including nine wides and 10 no-balls. England had started today’s play just two runs ahead and already three wickets down.
But brisk fifties from Root (72) – his second of the match on his Yorkshire home ground – and Ben Stokes (58), following up his first-innings score of exactly 100, plus a painstaking 61 from Dawid Malan laid the platform for Ali’s late-order assault.
Left-handed batsman Ali faced just 93 balls and hit 14 fours. A dispiriting day for the West Indies was summed up when Ali was reprieved on 32. He bottom-edged a catch off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and was superbly caught by wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich only for Indian umpire S Ravi to make a desperately tight no-ball call.
It seemed almost cruel that the West Indies, who had dropped several catches this Test at a potentially match-losing cost of 238 runs, should have their best effort of the game chalked off this way.
Ali, whose elegant cover-driven four off Gabriel saw him to fifty, holed out off Bishoo in sight of his sixth Test hundred.
- England 258 (Ben Stokes 100, Joe Root 59; Shannon Gabriel 4/51, Kemar Roach 4/71) & 490/8 decl. (Moeen Ali 84, Chris Woakes 61*, Joe Root 72) lead West Indies 427 (Shai Hope 147, Kraigg Brathwaite 134; James Anderson 5/76, Ben Stokes 2/63) & 5/0 (Kraigg Brathwaite 4*) by 316 runs