Moeen Ali recalled to England Test squad for second India clash


ngland have turned to Moeen Ali as they desperately seek balance for their Test side against India.

Moeen has not been a Test regular since being dropped during the 2019 Ashes but was recalled on Tuesday and was due to train with the squad at Lord’s. He seems likely to go straight into the team for Thursday’s Second Test.

The series opener was drawn, but an unbalanced England side without a spinner had given up a 95-run first-innings lead and India were favourites to win the game when rain struck.

England do have two spinners in their squad already, Jack Leach and Dom Bess. Both remain with the group for now. Leach had the only realistic chance to play, but England appear reluctant to select him in a four-man attack at home when Ben Stokes, who is managing his mental wellbeing and a finger injury, is absent.

Leach is yet to play a Test this summer, despite having a strong record at home and overall; his Test bowling average is south of 30.

Moeen could bat at No7 and provide a bowling option in an England side showing plenty of change. Ollie Pope is in line for a recall after injury, while Haseeb Hameed and Mark Wood are also knocking on the door.

Moeen has 189 Test wickets, with eight of them coming in his most recent match, against India in February. He endured a frustrating tour of Asia, though, contracting Covid-19, then going home for his allocated period of rest immediately after getting back in the side.

Moeen has been in fine form in the Hundred for Birmingham Phoenix, and made 59 from 28 balls against Welsh Fire on Monday night.

With Chris Woakes injured, Moeen would have been a logical option when Stokes was ruled out 11 days ago, but England called up seamer Craig Overton instead.

England duly packed their batting and picked Sam Curran as part of a four-man attack, which did not quite work. Moeen does have form for appearing late in an India series and making a dramatic impact. In 2018, he was named man of the match in the series-sealing win at Southampton. He averages 22 at home against India, although on this tour their top five is all right-handed, which does not help him.

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