Web Desk (September 24, 2017): Moeen Ali produced what has to be one of the most imperious batting displays so far in the year. It was the third ODI between England and West Indies at Bristol.
West Indies kept a tight control on the match, ensuring that England were at 210/5 in the 33rd over when Ali came in. Joe Root was dismissed soon after that and Chris Woakes joined Ali in the middle. By the time Woakes got out, West Indies were battered and the confidence they showed for a better part of the innings almost completely faded away.
Ali started tentatively and his first boundary came after facing his first 15 balls. He then hit another off Rovman Powell in the next over. He would only manage two more boundaries in the next two overs before the unsuspecting Miguel Cummins took the ball to bowl the 44th over.
Cummins had been tormenter-in-chief until then and had taken the wickets of Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales. Ali decided to neutralize the best West Indies had. That over produced three sixes, two fours and a total of 25 runs and Moeen Ali reached his 50 that came in 41 balls.
The audacity of Ali’s onslaught can be explained by saying that, while he reached his half century in 41 balls, he took only 12 more to reach his 100. He hit a hat-trick in the next over off Jason Holder. He then got his bit of luck when he was dropped by Chris Gayle at backward point off Jerome Taylor.
West Indies were all over the place by this point, scampering around for their dear lives under Moeen Ali’s swinging bat. Ali then bid adieu to Chris Woakes who had stood dutifully at the non-strikers end all the while before crunching two sixes off Cummins and reaching his century in 53 balls. It is the second fastest 100 by and England batsman.
Ali and Woakes had added 117 runs in 12 overs. Chris Gayle is playing in this match and the crowd would have come expecting such fireworks to come off his bat. While it is yet to be seen how he fares, the home crowd would be more than happy now if their team manage to get him out for cheap.