Ageas Bowl pitch perfect for Moeen Ali, says Sir Ian Botham
"Cheteshwar Pujara will be delighted because he was under the cosh and was left out of the first Test match but like all good players who get left out, he went and worked on his game and has come back and put things right."
Last Updated: 01/09/18 9:58am
Sir Ian Botham believes the Ageas Bowl pitch is ideal for England spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid in a low-scoring, fourth Test thriller against India.
At the Ageas Bowl Moeen's record is very good, he took 6-67 against India here in 2014, which was where he took his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
Moeen has come off the back of a double-century and picking up six wickets in a match-winning effort against Yorkshire at Scarborough and it's important to pick players on form.
He gives you a bit of stability and this is a perfect pitch for both Moeen and Adil Rashid to bowl on. As the game goes on I expect the two of them will bowl more and more for England.
These are the first runs Cheteshwar Pujara's got this summer, he had never scored a hundred in England before his unbeaten 132 which helped India earn a 27-run lead and his only previous century outside of Asia was the 150 he hit against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Pujara has worked hard. We know he's a very good batsman, we watched him in India when he scored two centuries in each of the series in 2012 and 2016 against England, so it is no real surprise to me that he has got runs.
I think he will be delighted because he was under the cosh and was left out of the first Test match, but like all good players who get left out, he went and worked on his game and has come back and put things right.
England do have a player just like Pujara in their side in Alastair Cook, who will bat and bat and bat but he just hasn't got the runs at the moment. I don't think he's that far away from doing that again for the team.
I do think India will be a bit disappointed with their middle order and I couldn't work out Rishabh Pant's innings. As a young player who is renowned for his stroke play - who struck a six with only the second ball he faced in Test cricket at Trent Bridge - to poke around for 29 deliveries and then get out.
They are all good players in the Indian team but sometimes you're not in as good nick as you'd like to be.
Joe Root and Ben Stokes returned to fielding in the slips for England and as their best catchers it's always a good idea to have them in the cordon. I didn't understand why they weren't in the slips the previous games.
This has all the makings of a good game, when sides are getting out for 250 playing 250, it is always good.
Watch day three of the fourth Test between England and India, at The Ageas Bowl, from 10.00am on Friday on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404) and Sky Sports Main Event (channel 401).
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