Moeen Ali has delivered a stellar performance in this series but he wasn’t so happy with his own performance on Saturday because he felt he couldn’t really utilize the rough outside the right hander’s off-stump. Though Saqlain Mushtaq was present in the dugout, it was Harbhajan Singh, Moeen chose to seek counsel from.
The former Indian off-spinner said in an interview that Moeen was upset about not being able to use the rough and sought Bhajji’s help to review what he was doing. Because he has played for Surrey and knows how the Oval pitch behaves, Bhajji suggested that Moeen forget the rough completely and focus instead, on his pace. This pitch does not have huge cracks so the focus should be more on the pace, rather than hitting the rough. This pitch certainly was not like the Southampton track where Moeen finished with nine wickets.
In the absence of large cracks, Bhajji said, outside edge plays a big role too. He told Moeen that he probably won’t get inside edges as easily as at Ageas Bowl, so he should just relax and bowl. Moeen probably took Bhajji’s advice because the 2 wickets he picked up were on the side of the rough and went straight through. Bhajji was more than happy to help and said that the cracks may widen in the second innings and the dynamics are likely to change again. This could prove to be troublesome for India, as they are struggling batting fourth.