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Cricket: Ali's six appeal too strong for India

Moeen Ali spun England to victory as they ended a run of 10 Tests without a win by beating India by 266 runs in the third Test at Southampton on Thursday (July 31).

SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom: Moeen Ali spun England to victory as they ended a run of 10 Tests without a win by beating India by 266 runs in the third Test at Southampton on Thursday (July 31). Ali took six for 67 in 20.4 overs, including a spell of four for 17 in 22 balls as England completed a crushing win that saw them level the five-match series at 1-1.

India, chasing what would have been a new fourth innings record winning total of 445, were bowled out for 178 before lunch on the fifth day. After resuming on 112 for four, India collapsed as they lost their final six wickets for 66 runs inside 25 overs on Thursday, with only Ajinkya Rahane (52 not out) offering much in the way of resistance.

"It's been a really good week, I had a good feeling coming into it but we almost played the perfect game," under pressure England captain Alastair Cook told BBC Radio's Test Match Special.

"It does not mean we have cracked it but it was pretty good," added Cook, who put a run of low scores behind him by making 95 and 70 not out in this match. "Moeen Ali's bowling has come on leaps and bounds this summer, he's fronted up to the responsibility, worked really hard and responded well. Getting six wickets to win the game, you couldn't ask for more and Jimmy bowled brilliantly."

Meanwhile India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni confirmed Ishant Sharma, the seven-wicket hero of their 95-run win in the second Test at Lord's, would not be fit for the fourth Test at Old Trafford starting on August 7 after missing this match through injury. "Ishant Sharma definitely won't be fit for the fourth Test," Dhoni said.

India, 1-0 up after their 95-run win in the second Test at Lord's, resumed knowing the most any side had made in the fourth innings to win a Test is the 418 for seven by the West Indies against Australia at St John's in 2002/03.

Rahane was 18 not out and Rohit Sharma dropped on five by James Anderson after he put down a caught and bowled chance, six not out. But India lost a wicket without adding to their score.

Man-of-the-match Anderson, who took five wickets in India's first innings, struck with his third ball Thursday when Sharma, feeling for the ball a long way outside off stump, was caught behind by Test debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. And it was not long before the Lancashire duo combined again as Dhoni (six) was undone by an excellent full-length delivery that nipped away off the seam. Anderson had taken two wickets for six runs in 12 balls, with India now 120 for six.

ALI TAKES OVER

But Ali then trumped that return in spectacular style on a wearing pitch. Left-hander Ravindra Jadeja (15) was bowled trying to hit against the turn and, four balls later, Bhuvneshwar Kumar fell for a duck after an inside edge ballooned off his pad to Anderson in the gully. And it was not long before 152 for eight became 178 all out, Ali bowling tailenders Mohammed Shami (nought) and Pankaj Singh (nine).

That gave Ali, primarily a batsman, 15 wickets in the series at an impressive average of 26.46, with only Anderson (16 wickets) a more successful bowler in the opening three Test. Ali's haul saw the focus return to the 27-year-old Worcestershire all-rounder's cricket after he had caused controversy earlier in this match by wearing 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands.

England, without a Test win for nearly a year since beating Australia by 74 runs in Durham to clinch the 2013 Ashes on home soil, dominated this match. They made 569 for seven declared featuring Ian Bell's 167 and Gary Ballance's Test-best 156 before dismissing India for 330, with Anderson marking his 32nd birthday on Wednesday with five for 53.

One major concern for England is that Anderson could miss both the fourth Test at his Lancashire home ground and the series finale at The Oval if an International Cricket Council disciplinary hearing on Friday regarding his dust-up with Jadeja in the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge finds against him.

"We'll have to wait and see," said Anderson. "It's been in the background and we have done outstandingly well as a team to put it out of our minds. Once I'm out on the field the one thing on my mind is to take wickets, and I did that."

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