Moeen and Rashid knew they were ‘the guys who were going to win the game’

England's Moeen Ali seen bowling during England's dismal Ashes experience (Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA Wire).

Moeen Ali has long since packed away his Ashes disappointment and has his sights set on being a white-ball match-winner this winter.

Test cricket will return soon enough for the all-rounder, who endured a largely barren Ashes campaign – but at present he has a new and invigorating challenge on his hands.

In tandem with fellow spinner Adil Rashid, of Yorkshire, he believes he can keep helping to turn matches England’s way – as the pair of them did with five wickets for 23 runs to undermine New Zealand’s chase in Saturday’s third one-day international at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

The brilliant Kane Williamson still took the hosts to the brink in a thrilling contest, but Moeen’s 3-36 helped England into a 2-1 series lead.

It is a jarring contrast that his paltry five wickets in the entire Ashes series came at the alarming cost of 575 runs and took 169.2 overs spread over seven weeks.

To Moeen, though, those struggles are a distant memory.

“You can’t afford to dwell on the Ashes,” he said.

“Ashes or no Ashes, it’s Test cricket, and you try to give your best. That’s all you can do.”

He is doing the same, to better effect, in the white-ball section of England’s arduous winter – first in a 4-1 ODI win over Australia, before taking a rest during the Twenty20 Tri-series.

“You’ve just got to try and move on and look forward, because we play so much cricket,” said Moeen, who will be back in action when England bid for an unassailable 3-1 lead in the fourth match of five in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Reflecting on his and Rashid’s impact at the weekend, he added: “I feel as though I can turn a game like that in terms of not just taking wickets but trying to bowl tight – and then the wickets will come.

“We brought the game back into our hands.

“We both knew we were the two guys who were going to win the game, but I didn’t feel pressure to take wickets or anything like that.”

England’s much-improved limited-overs fortunes since the last World Cup have meant the switch to white-ball cricket brings back the feelgood factor.

“Knowing as a team we’re a lot more confident in the one-day white-ball stuff, you just feel you get energised a little bit after those difficult months,” said Moeen.

He is a confidant as well as spin twin for Rashid, and they love hatching plans for opposition batsmen.

“We actually talk a lot with each other, about how we’re going to bowl on this particular wicket, how we’re going to bowl a little bit different to the one in the last game,” added Moeen, who also supports the leg-spinner over his controversial decision to sign a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire this summer.

“I think it’s something that has been on his mind for a good few months.

“Sometimes as a player when something just feels right, it might not make sense to other people, (but) it’s something you just have to do.

“I know there’s a lot of ex-players who give him a bit of stick, but it’s up to him.

“It’s his life, his career.”

Moeen confirms too that personal goals rather than financial considerations are behind Rashid’s switch.

“These days you can afford to do it,” he added.

“Some players may lose a bit of money, but they are still earning enough.

“For some players, and I know this for Rash, it’s not about the money.”

Captain Eoin Morgan was thankful that England’s Chris Woakes held his nerve to help his team close out their thrilling victory over New Zealand in Wellington.

Woakes defied home centurion Williamson by defending 15 in the final over.

Williamson (112no) and Mitchell Santner put the Kiwis back in the see-saw contest after Moeen and Rashid had taken five wickets for 23 runs to reduce them to 103-6 in pursuit of 235 on an awkward surface.

Morgan was full of praise for Woakes, who kept his cool after Williamson pulled a six off the third ball of the last over.

“Woakes is Mr Reliable,” Morgan said. “He’s a bit of an unsung hero for us with bat and ball.”

“Woakesy bowled a really nice over – he bowls very good ‘death’,” said Williamson.

Kiwi star can lead Yorkshire’s chase for 2018 glory: Page 7.

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