Fourth Test: Moeen Ali keeps a clear head to revive England with excellent century in final Test at The Oval

Moeen Ali kept his cool when others were unable to, as England recovered their composure against Pakistan at The Oval.

Englands Moeen Ali, who was struck on the head with the first delivery he faced at The Oval, celebrates after reaching his century during day one of the fourth Test against Pakistan at The Oval (Picture: John Walton/PA Wire).

Moeen (108) set aside a blow to the head from the first delivery he faced to help England from a perilous 110-5 to 328 all out on day one of the fourth and final Investec Test.

England were perhaps feeling hard done by after opener Alex Hales was given out to a low catch at midwicket, in the absence of a definitive video replay to overturn the umpire’s ‘soft signal’ that the ball had not hit the ground before being taken.

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The opener was moved at close of play to tweet a screengrab of the moment Yasir Shah gathered the ball, with the words “bit blurry to be fair!”.

Hales was responding, equivocally, to his team-mate Stuart Broad, after the bowler had questioned a journalist’s assessment that “replays are unclear but umps say out” by posting: “replays are unclear? You don’t believe that do you?”.

The players’ tweets could only have repercussions if it could be stated for sure they were quibbling with an umpire’s decision.

Moeen ensured England had plenty to smile about by stumps in any case, sharing a crucial stand of 93 with Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow (55) and then completing his century with a six off Yasir just over the head of deep midwicket.

England therefore posted a competitive total, despite Sohail Khan’s 5-68, and finished with an extra spring in their step after Sami Aslam fell cheaply as Pakistan closed on 3-1.

Moeen admits, earlier in his career, he might have reacted differently after being hit on the helmet by a Wahab Riaz bouncer.

He said: “After the first ball, getting hit on the head, I had to wake up a little bit.

“I knew once they were bowling like that at Gaz Ballance, they were probably going to do the same to me – go hard at us. But sometimes you’ve just got to ride the storm a little bit.

“I feel like I stayed calm, and I can hold my composure a bit more in those situations. I didn’t panic.”

Three and a half hours later, he was taking full advantage – in company by then with No 11 James Anderson – when he smashed Yasir for his second six to go to three figures.

“Once it came out, I thought, ‘this one is it’,” he said. “I’d blocked a few balls, and saw it and just went on my gut instinct and backed myself to clear the boundary. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was six. It was a good connection.”

Moeen is delighted to be repaying the faith of selectors and concedes he might even have dropped himself this summer, if the choice had been his.

A regrettable dismissal to Yasir in England’s defeat in the first Test at Lord’s forced him to rethink his approach.

“I was really embarrassed after my shot (at Lord’s), and that’s when I decided I needed to bat properly again now,” he said.

“I was sick and tired of not scoring that many runs for England. I told myself, ‘even if I’m batting eight, I’m going to go out like I’m batting three for Worcestershire’.”

He never expended energy worrying about whether his place might be in jeopardy.

“I don’t really feel that sort of pressure,” he said. “It doesn’t really bother me.

“I’ve got to thank the selectors and Cookie (captain Alastair Cook). I probably wouldn’t have picked myself at one stage.”

Pakistan bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed admits an opportunity has been missed after Moeen was dropped twice early in his innings, and Bairstow was caught off a no-ball.

“But we’ve still got four days to go,” he said, “and we have to take those things away mentally and focus on our batting.”