Moeen Ali helps England take control against West Indies

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Moeen Ali’s latest match-changing contribution helped England set a mountainous target as a pulsating second Test threatened to slip through the West Indies’ fingers on day four at Headingley.

The tourists have had their noses in front for the majority of the match but fell foul of England’s deep batting reserves as Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen all followed Mark Stoneman past 50 in a collective show of strength which saw them surpass their wildest dreams to declare 321 ahead on 490 for eight.

Moeen’s 93-ball 84 was the largest and the most bruising of those knocks, though Sundaram Ravi’s contentious no-ball shout spared him on 32 and the West Indies added another shocking drop to their collection when Malan had the same score.

England skipper Root’s sporty declaration allowed his bowlers six overs before stumps but Kieran Powell and Kraigg Brathwaite held on for stumps at five without loss.

Stat of the day

The 490 for eight declared that England amassed at Headingley is their highest ever Test total when no individual has gone on to record a century, eclipsing the 477 for nine they registered against South Africa at the same ground. Instead, England’s collective efforts have put them in the driving seat.

The unlikely Chase

Jason Holder’s insistence on largely preferring Roston Chase ahead of Devendra Bishoo has divided opinion but it was a decision that bore fruit midway through the afternoon.

With England 134 ahead and seemingly in no apparent danger, Chase removed set batsmen Stokes and Malan as well as Jonny Bairstow in the space of 22 balls. His spell blew the match wide open but the Windies were unable to take advantage…

Moeen and Woakes to the rescue

…and that was largely due to the brilliance of Moeen and Woakes, an enviable pair to have at eight and nine in the order. While Moeen was given a life on 32 after umpire Ravi blundered by wrongly signalling a no-ball when Bishoo had the left-hander caught behind, the England pair were able to accumulate quickly to swing the pendulum firmly in England’s favour.

Malan struggles…but posts important score

Much has been made of England’s top order struggles, with the positions of Stoneman, Tom Westley and Malan apparently vulnerable ahead of this winter’s Ashes.

Malan had the chance to ink in his spot but was perpetually out of sorts during his innings: he should have been out on four but survived because the Windies failed to review a caught behind on Sunday while he was dropped on 32 on Monday after edging Holder to first slip.

That he came through to get to a second half-century in three innings – a nugget knock of 61 from 186 deliveries that allowed those below him to capitalise – says much for his character. Whether it will be enough for a plane ticket to Australia is another story.

Tweet of the day

Even England’s official Twitter account had to acknowledge the Middlesex left-hander looked ill-at-ease at the crease but his battling 61 could yet prove crucial.

Crowd pleasing

While the Windies’ revival after their Edgbaston nightmare comes as welcome news, there will be few more delighted outside the Caribbean than the Yorkshire hierarchy.

Ticket sales were reportedly poor for the fourth day but Yorkshire capitalised on a tight contest and a lovely weather forecast by lowering prices to £15 for adults and £5 for students and children.

The result was that just over 8,000 people arrived through the gates at Headingley, surely a figure Yorkshire could only have dreamt of a few days ago.

What next?

The prospect of a thrilling final-day run chase seems to have evaporated so the only question that remains is can the Windies bat out the day to salvage a draw and keep the Investec series alive for the final Test of the summer at Lord’s next week?

With England holding all the aces and James Anderson only three wickets away from 500 in Tests, only a brave man would gamble on the tourists holding out.