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Moeen Ali sends South Africa spinning to first Test defeat

LONDON: Moeen Ali took six wickets as England beat South Africa by 211 runs to win the first Test at Lord’s with more than a day to spare on Sunday.

The Proteas, set 331 to win, collapsed to 119 all out inside 37 overs.

The result meant Joe Root, who made 190 in the hosts’ first innings 458, enjoyed a resounding victory in his first Test as England captain, with his side now 1-0 up in this four-match series.

Off-spinner Ali, the man-of-the-match, finished with Test-best figures of six for 53 in 15 overs — including a burst of five for 20 in 25 balls — on a pitch offering sharp turn.

No South Africa batsman made more in the innings than Temba Bavuma’s 21.

“Everything I asked of the lads, they did,” said Root at the presentation ceremony. “It’s great to go to Trent Bridge 1-0 up.

“It was nice to get the runs, a monkey off the back, but throughout the game we had lots of good partnerships,” the star batsman added.

‘Fabulous’ Ali

Ali also made 87 in England’s first innings during a match where he took 10 for 112 in total and completed the all-rounder’s Test double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets.

“Moeen put in a fabulous performance, a great game,” Root told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special. “His innings was fabulous and he put the ball in consistently good areas.”

Meanwhile Ali paid tribute to the influence of England spin-bowling coach Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan off-spinner.

“Everything went my way,” said Ali.

“Saqlain has been helping me with my mindset and Rooty has given me the license to come on and take wickets.”

South Africa stand-in captain Dean Elgar, leading the side for the first time while regular skipper Faf du Plessis took paternity leave, said: “We knew it was going to be a challenge and it just didn’t go our way.”

England collapse

The day started well for South Africa as England, who resumed on 119 for one in their second innings, lost seven wickets before lunch in a dramatic collapse.

But in the midst of the clatter of wickets, Vernon Philander dropped a routine catch at long-off when Jonny Bairstow, mistiming a drive off left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, was on seven.

Bairstow punished the Proteas by making 51 before he was last man out in a total of 233.

The scale of South Africa’s task could be seen from the fact that only once, when the West Indies made 344 for one against England in 1984 with Gordon Greenige hitting an unbeaten double century, had a side made more than 300 in the fourth innings to win a Lord’s Test.

Bairstow, the son of late former England wicket-keeper David Bairstow, has often been criticised for the quality of his glovework.

But he held a brilliant one-handed catch, diving low down the legside, to give England their first wicket Sunday when Test debutant Heino Kuhn (one) glanced James Anderson.

South Africa’s 12 for one became 12 for two when Elgar (two) drilled a return catch to Ali.

JP Duminy then hammered a pull off Wood and Ali held a good catch at midwicket to leave South Africa 25 for three at tea.

South Africa now needed a major innings from Hashim Amla.

But the star batsman fell for his interval score of 11 when, beaten on the outside edged by an excellent delivery from Liam Dawson, he was lbw to the left-arm spinner.

There was a brief pause before Ali transformed South Africa’s 61 for four into 82 for eight.

But it was Dawson who ended the match when Morne Morkel holed out to South Africa-born Keaton Jennings in the deep.

Former England captain Alastair Cook was 59 not out overnight and Gary Ballance unbeaten on 34.

England struggled and when Kagiso Rabada had Ben Stokes plumb lbw he jokingly put a finger to his lips — a reference to his ban from Friday’s second Test at Trent Bridge for swearing at the all-rounder after dismissing him in England’s first innings.

But it was England who had the last laugh on a remarkable day at Lord’s that saw 19 wickets fall in total.

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