'Gutted' Moeen plays down hundred

By Jonathan Veal

Moeen Ali insists his maiden Test-match century lost some shine after England’s heart-breaking Investec Series defeat to Sri Lanka.

The 27-year-old all-rounder, playing just his second Test, batted for 385 minutes as he compiled a watchful and unbeaten 108 at Headingley in a bid to try and save the game and series.

But that knock was in vain as the hosts slipped to a 100-run defeat, with last man James Anderson falling to the penultimate ball of the match.

It handed Sri Lanka a maiden Test series win in England, after the first clash at Lord’s was drawn, and meant that a fine innings from Moeen went without reward.

Anderson was close to tears at the end of the match after batting for 55 balls and Moeen feels for his team-mate.

“I am gutted, the hundred doesn’t mean as much after the defeat,” Moeen admitted, talking exclusively to ecb.co.uk.

“I would have loved it if we had saved the game but it is one of those things, it was a good ball right at the end that Jimmy got so I am gutted at the minute.

“He played so well and then he gets a ball like that. For him to bat the way he did and battle, he played really well, I am gutted for him and gutted for the lads.

Moeen Ali goes to three figures as his disciplined 108 not out took England to within two balls of survival in the second Test with Sri Lanka

“He was playing so well, with 20 minutes to go I was really confident, but at nine down it just takes one good ball to take a wicket.”

Moeen’s gritty innings took England to the brink of safety and his discipline and obdurate nature have won praise.

The left-hander faced 281 balls in spending all day at the crease, but never looked beyond the next delivery.

“It was one ball at a time from ball one,” he added. “I like to play like that. If I play straight and be disciplined, runs will come. I feel like I know my game.

“I was just one ball at a time, just staying in the moment is important.

“I just wanted to bat and finish it for the lads, that was more important than the hundred.”

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