Magnificent Moeen saves England from Sohail


A brilliant century from Moeen Ali salvaged England's first innings in the fourth Test against Pakistan following an engrossing opening day at The Oval.

England claimed a 141-run victory at Edgbaston last time out to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series, but they got off to a stuttering start as they looked to set the platform for a series victory and possible ascension to the number one ranking.

After winning the toss, the hosts fell to 110-5 before Moeen combined in a stand of 93 with Jonny Bairstow, who helped steady the ship with his ninth Test fifty.

Pakistan - who dropped Moeen in the slips on nine - fought back again in the final session, Sohail Khan taking out the tail to finish with 5-68 with Moeen the last man to fall for an excellent 108.

With England all out for 328, Pakistan had three overs to face before stumps and lost Sami Aslam - who scored two fifties at Edgbaston - for three, lbw to Stuart Broad.

England will feel confident of early inroads on Friday but it was Pakistan who had the better of the opening session here.

Alex Hales' struggles continued when, on six, he chipped Mohammad Amir (2-80) low to Yasir Shah, the batsman standing his ground before inconclusive replays meant the umpire's soft signal of out stood.

Alastair Cook (35) was dropped at slip by debutant Iftikhar Ahmed, but it did not prove costly as he chopped on from Sohail in the next over.

Joe Root (26) and James Vince (1) then departed after edging Wahab Riaz (3-93) to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Bairstow earned a reprieve on 13 when he was caught off a Wahab no-ball, but the bowler was soon celebrating when Gary Ballance (8) was caught at third slip.

Pakistan passed up a golden opportunity to dismiss Moeen early when Azhar Ali put down a simple chance in the cordon off Amir, who kicked the turf in frustration.

The same bowler ended the innings of Bairstow (55) after tea by virtue of a loose drive that was taken by Sarfraz, and Chris Woakes' fine summer continued as he made 45 before edging Sohail behind.

That left Moeen to marshal the tail on his way to a century, brought up by launching Yasir over deep midwicket for six.

However, a top edge looped to Yasir at deep square leg to bring England's innings to a close, and Pakistan suffered a setback before stumps.

Broad trapped Sami in his sole over, with Pakistan set to resume on Friday 325 runs behind with Azhar - promoted to open after Mohammad Hafeez was left out - and nightwatchman Yasir at the crease.