Mumbai, April 20: Moeen Ali was a mere spectator as England undertook a faltering campaign in the T20I series against India last month. Ali was in the squad but never featured in any of the five matches as the hosts completed their domination over England after victories in the Test and ODI series.
But a month or so down the line, the England all-rounder has shown his T20 prowess for Chennai Super Kings in the on-going IPL 2021.
Joined the Super Kings from Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of IPL 2021, Ali made a decent start to the tournament when he made a 36 off 24 balls against Delhi Capitals but the off-spinner conceded 33 runs in 3 overs as the Delhi side emerged winners.
But the real effect of Ali came to the fore in the match against Punjab Kings when he made a 46 off 31 balls and then picked up a wicket in three miserly overs - 3-0-17-1. He took the game to another level against Rajasthan Royals, as he made 26 off 20 balls and then bagged three wickets for a mere 7 runs from three overs.
Once Ali finished with his work, Rajasthan were not even in the picture. However, a chunk of credit should go to CSK skipper MS Dhoni as well. Jos Buttler had hammered Ravindra Jadeja for a six and the ball had to be replaced. Dhoni told Jadeja that the dry ball will spin and it happened precisely so, and Buttler got out.
Dhoni did not have to think long to press his second finger spinner into attack and Ali did not disappoint his skipper. He scalped David Miller, Riyan Parag and Chris Morris to squeeze the life out of Royals' chase. It is not even an iota of exaggeration to say that Ali has replaced Shane Watson in the Super Kings line-up with aplomb.
Stephen Fleming, the CSK coach, admitted as much. "Moeen Ali is adding an all-round aspect to our game. We lacked it a bit last year but his contributions have just been what we were looking for. We are absolutely happy with the way he has started. In regards to the way, we are playing the game, I am really excited about that as well.
"I think we have not played a good 20 overs with the bat yet but still we are able to get high scores so the long resources we have, we are using that and we are pushing the opposition hard.
"Moeen has been really impressive and with the way he has played at number three, has been instrumental in us getting big scores," said Fleming during the virtual press conference.
After the suffering the ignominy of making an exit in the league phase itself in the IPL 2020, the CSK needed a strong season and they have taken the right initial steps. Moeen Ali has been a massive component in that.