England all-rounder Moeen Ali is not expecting excessive spin from the surface at The Oval in the fourth Test against India starting on Thursday.
But since every ground has some spin on offer, he believes there will be opportunities to cause breakthroughs on all five days.
Speaking at an online media interaction as the newly-appointed vice-captain of England on Wednesday, Moeen said: “I think in England most grounds tend to spin a little bit anyway, obviously some more than the others. There is always some spin (at the Oval) but I am not expecting to be a dance on nails or something.”
The Ashwin – Jadeja factor
Moeen said the home side was surprised with the prolonged absence of Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, their key tormentor in the away series earlier this year. “I think yes, a little bit maybe (absence of Ashwin).”
The 34-year-old was all praise for Chennai Super Kings teammate Ravindra Jadeja. “I also feel Jadeja is an amazing cricketer. He is one of my favourite players in the world. I would always have Jadeja in my side, no matter what,” said Moeen.
During the 2018 tour, India’s 118-run defeat against England at The Oval witnessed 16 wickets falling to spin. Moeen added that Ashwin would be in the reckoning for the upcoming game. “I think India, after winning at Lord’s, would have gone with four seamers anyway, and Jadeja did a great job. He is batting well. I am sure Ashwin will be considered going into tomorrow,” he added.
Need to cement a spot
Moeen, who has featured in just four Tests since August 2019, said that he is not carried away by the duty of being vice-captain. He admitted that he is short on performances in the red-ball format ahead of England’s much-anticipated Ashes in Australia later this year.
“Not really (feeling secure about a spot). The thing I take out of it is that they considered me as somebody who can do the job. I don’t see my spot cemented. I need to put in some performances going forward in the next two games to keep a spot. I also know that I am the vice-captain because Ben Stokes and Jos (Buttler), so it’s all about putting up performances for me,” he said.
Bracing for an Indian comeback
With the series well poised after the host equalised against India, 1-1 at Headingley, Ali said England expects a strong comeback from Virat Kohli’s men. “I am expecting India to come out with all-out intensity. At Headingley, because of the great first day we had (bundling India for 78), it was tough coming back for them a little bit, and for the rest of the Test, we played well. We were focused on our game and concentrated on our performances,” said Moeen.