Moeen Ali has decided to return home following England’s crushing second Test defeat in India, captain Joe Root has confirmed.
Moeen added some late spark in Chennai by hammering five sixes in a bruising 18-ball cameo worth 43 before his dismissal ended the match and handed the tourists a 317-run loss, which levels the series at 1-1.
The Worcestershire all-rounder tested positive for coronavirus on arrival in Sri Lanka last month and had to quarantine for a fortnight.
Root, whose side face two further Test matches, both in Ahmedabad, said: “Moeen has chosen to go home. He obviously feels he wants to be home with his family and we have to respect that.
“It’s been a tough tour for him. It’s come to a point where he feels he needs to get out of the bubble.
“I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision. We have to respect it.”
Root admitted England were outplayed in every department during a chastening second Test but remain “very much” alive in the series.
“I think the credit has to go to India – they played very well. They’ve outplayed us in all three departments this week and for us this is a bit of an education. We’ve got to learn from this,” Root told Channel Four.
“We have got to find a way of scoring runs in these conditions, find ways of building pressure for long periods of time with the ball.
“But we are 1-1 in the series, there are two very important games to come and we’re very excited about that. Because of how well we played in the first game, we are very much in this series.”
The thrashing was England’s heaviest defeat by runs in India, a beating that will need to be parked if the tourists are to hit back in the day-night third Test, which begins on February 24.
Resuming on 53 for three, they needed to turn their overnight score into a world-record chase of 482 to win, or bat for six full sessions on a spinning, spitting minefield of a wicket to salvage a draw.
In the end, they came nowhere close to either outcome and were bowled out for 164.
“I think on day one we could probably have been a little bit tighter and squeezed the game a little bit more and made it a little bit harder for them to score as freely as they did,” Root said.
“And then, with the bat, it was obviously a challenging wicket from day two onwards.
“We are going to have to be quite smart about how we score our runs out here, how we are going to build an innings, and we’ve got to learn from opposition who played very well in these conditions.”
There was precious little optimism to take from the final day, but Root clung on for over a session for 33 and the departing Moeen offered some resistance.
“There are definitely things we can take from this week. It’s just very important we stay level as a team,” Root said.
“We’ve got to stay very level, understand we’ve played a lot of very good cricket in the recent past, performed well last week but we’ve got to learn the lessons.
“There are a few guys that haven’t played a lot in this part of the world, so we’ve got to learn quickly. I think that’s one thing that we’ve done quite well in recent times, so hopefully we can take that into the rest of the series.
“It will be different again when we turn up for that third game with it being a day-nighter and it’s set up very nicely for a very exciting last two games.”