Moeen Ali revealed a ruthless streak by saying he was pleased to make the West Indies “suffer” and see their “heads go down” after putting England in position to win the second Test at Headingley.
Ali and fellow all-rounder Chris Woakes turned the tide in England’s favour with a rapid eighth-wicket stand of 117 after tea on Monday’s fourth day.
It was Ali who led the way with 84 off just 93 balls including 14 fours, while the recalled Woakes weighed in with an unbeaten 61.
Their partnership allowed England captain Joe Root to declare his side’s second innings on 490 for eight, leaving the West Indies, who again harmed their own cause with dropped catches, an imposing target of 322 to win.
At stumps, they were five without loss and they now need 317 more runs on a wearing fifth-day pitch to square the three-match series at 1-1.
It all represented a testament to England’s batting strength in depth after they started Monday just two runs in front and with three wickets already down.
– ‘Bury them’ –
“We felt like their heads went down pretty quickly after tea,” left-handed batsman Ali told reporters.
“We were trying to go up five runs at a time and keep going, keep burying them almost, make them suffer in terms of keeping them out in the field,” the usually mild-mannered all-rounder added.
As for his fortunate reprieve on 32 when caught behind off a Devendra Bishoo no-ball that may well have been a legal delivery, Ali said: “These things happen, people make mistakes and you just carry on.”
Ali and Woakes were just two of six England batsmen who passed fifty — the lower-order pair cashing in against a tiring attack after opener Mark Stoneman, Root, Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes had all reached the landmark.
“I feel with the team we have and the strength we have, we were capable of being in this position,” said Ali.
The off-spinner will now be expected to star with the ball as well on a pitch taking turn.
But after seeing the West Indies make 427 in their first innings, Ali expected England to have to work hard for their wickets on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said.
“There is good spin and bounce but they’re actually quite dangerous to bowl at.
“Hopefully we can get some wickets and I can contribute with the ball as well.”
West Indies off-spinner Roston Chase, who took three wickets before tea, said: “It is a bit disappointing. I thought we were in a good position at tea but we let them slip away.”
But West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick was proud of how his side had fought after their humiliating innings and 209-run defeat inside three days in the first Test at Edgbaston.
“The key thing for us is that we’ve shown improvement,” said Estwick of a match where the West Indies players have worn black armbands as a mark of respect following the death of his mother.
“After the Birmingham Test match where everybody was saying we were the worst team that ever arrived on these shores, we’ve scrapped with England, we’ve battled them and we’ve taken it into a fifth day.”
“We’re still looking to win this Test match, we’ve got nothing to lose,” Estwick insisted.
“If we can play well enough in the first two sessions between start of play to lunch and lunch to tea then who knows?”