I just thought, why not? Moeen revels in putting Proteas to the sword

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Moeen Ali felt attack was the best form of defence as his swashbuckling innings put England in a dominant position over South Africa.

Having earned a first-innings lead of 136 on day three of the fourth Test at Old Trafford, the hosts were wobbling at 134-6 second time round, with the Proteas fighting hard for an unlikely win and a 2-2 series draw.

But Moeen, dropped on 15, thrashed 67 off 59 balls including three sixes - the second of which took him to fifty, launched onto the England balcony where it was caught by Jonny Bairstow.

That knock helped England close on 224-8, 360 ahead and seemingly set for a 3-1 series success, if the Manchester weather holds across Monday and Tuesday.

Prior to Moeen, only captain Joe Root (49) had made scoring look relatively simple on a difficult pitch, and the elegant left-hander made the decision early in his innings to go on the offensive.

"It was my best [innings] in terms of taking momentum away and putting pressure back on them," he told a media conference. "I felt the situation of the game needed impetus and a few shots. You can be a sitting duck and I didn't want to do that.

"I had that backing to go play with freedom. I just thought, 'why not?' Play a few shots and put the pressure back on the bowlers. There's been times in the past I've done it and it's not come off."

Moeen was grateful to the selectors for sticking with him through previous lean patches, while he also paid tribute to the Old Trafford crowd, who grew gradually more vocal as the refreshments flowed and the boundaries came in abundance.

"I have that experience of playing regularly now, there's probably times I could have been dropped in the past and they've stuck with me which is great for my confidence," Moeen said.

"They [the crowd] asked me to wave a couple of times but it's difficult when you're batting! Places like here and Edgbaston, they get on your side, you have to ride the wave a little bit and keep them going.

"I like to entertain them and myself. I went with the flow, my family were in the crowd and I wanted to make sure they came all the way here and enjoyed my batting."