Virat Kohli pinpoints Moeen Ali as England danger man

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India captain Virat Kohli has highlighted returning all-rounder Moeen Ali as England’s potential danger man at Lord’s.

Kohli knows Moeen well from their time together at Royal Challengers Bangalore and is well versed in the threat he brings as a finger spinner and lower-order hitter.

Moeen, 34, played a key role in England’s home series wins in 2014 and 2018 but has been used as a white-ball specialist for most of the past two years and was only recalled to the squad after last week’s draw at Trent Bridge.

England Nets Session – Day One – Lord's
Moeen Ali has been recalled by England (Jonathan Brady/PA)

His only Test appearance since the 2019 Ashes came in Chennai six months ago, when he dismissed Kohli in each innings on his way to an eight-wicket haul and hit five sixes in a fearless 43.

“He’s a good friend of mine, we’ve got to know each other very well over the years. He’s a great guy,” said Kohli.

“We are wary of his skills. He’s obviously a very talented cricketer, brings consistency with the ball and as a middle-order or lower-order batsman. Especially in Test cricket, he can change the momentum of the game with the bat.

“He’s in great form right now, he’s batting really well and with the ball he is always someone that the team has banked on, so we will have to be at our best going up against Moeen.

“Whenever we take the field, with skills we compete but it’s always mutual respect and a really nice environment when he’s playing on the field, whether it’s with or against, he’s always been a pleasure to share the field with.”

India must find a replacement for seam bowler Shardul Thakur after he was ruled out of the Lord’s Test with a hamstring strain.

Kohli sprung something of a surprise in Nottingham when he left number one spinner Ravichandran Ashwin out of his XI, but spoke after the match about his satisfaction with the balance of the side in English conditions.

Whether Thakur’s injury forces a rethink and offers Ashwin a lifeline remains to be seen, but the vastly experienced paceman Ishant Sharma appears to have a better chance.

“For us it’s about finding that perfect balance, but if someone like Shardul is not available we will definitely think first about how we pick up 20 wickets, not plug-in another guy who can give us some runs with the bat,” said Kohli.

“We feel very comfortable with how the first Test went. You can apply pressure throughout the day (with four seamers) and we are not going to under-bowl anyone. We like that kind of template when we are looking to create pressure in the innings.”

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