Cricket

Moeen Ali helps England dominate South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg

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Moeen Ali claimed six wickets as England blew away a flimsy South Africa A on the final morning in Pietermaritzburg.

The Proteas' second string appeared strong on paper but have been comprehensively outclassed over three days, with England winning by an innings and 91 runs.

Moeen took his turn in the spotlight, claiming six for 77 as the home side were bowled out for 187.

England, meanwhile, can reflect on a near perfect workout that saw centuries for Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a much-needed 50 from Alex Hales and an impressive display from Steven Finn that appears to have secured him a Test place.

South Africa A lost eight wickets for 152 on the day, the latter figure bolstered by Quinton De Kock's 53 and some enjoyable, but meaningless, hitting from the tail.

The home side's woes began immediately, nightwatchman Marchant De Lange fending Mark Footitt's first ball of the morning to James Taylor at short leg.

That brought De Kock to the middle alongside Rilee Rossouw. The two players who have genuine aspirations of featuring in the Test series knuckled down to their task, putting on 67 in 15 profitable overs.

De Kock, in particular, showed off some of the talent that has earned him six Test caps, greeting Finn with successive driven fours and slashing Moeen twice through point when he dropped short.

England's spinner should have had him stumped on 38 but wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow was unable to gather cleanly.

That allowed De Kock to post a brisk half-century, containing 40 runs in boundaries, before Moeen beat him again.

This time the ball struck the pad and a tight lbw decision went with the bowler.

Rossouw followed for 32, Moeen beating the sweep to earn a second lbw.

Having been denied a fourth-innings bowl due to rain in Potchefstroom, Moeen was banking some useful overs on this occasion.

With the two key batsmen gone, England sensed an early finish.

Finn ushered things along with his fifth and sixth wickets of the match, Omphile Ramela leg before to one that kept low and Khaya Zondo spraying a catch to fourth slip off the shoulder of the bat.

Both made ducks, Zondo for the second time in the match, and look flattered to be representing the Proteas' second string.

Dane Vilas dragged Moeen for six into the leg side but his fourth wicket, and England's sixth of the morning, was close at hand.

Chris Morris was the man to go, to an lbw decision so plumb he had already started walking by the time the umpire's finger went up.

The result was now a formality, though Vilas (30no) and Keshav Maharaj (31) delayed the inevitable with a string of boundaries.

Moeen wrapped things up by bowling Maharaj on the sweep and having Dane Paterson caught in the deep, Hales making up for an earlier drop on at deep midwicket.

For Moeen it was a sixth first-class five-for, and strong preparation for the challenge ahead.

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