Moeen Ali says England are in a “winnable position” after his two wickets restricted Australia on day two of the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
Moeen removed Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith to move to 200 Test wickets as the tourists reached 116-4 at close, leading by 142.
England were earlier bowled out for 237 after another heroic innings from captain Ben Stokes, who hit 80 to rescue his side from 142-7.
“We have a good chance,” said Moeen.
Speaking to Test Match Special, he added. “It’s pleasing the day actually ended up quite nicely and we’re still in a winnable position.”
Australia are 2-0 up in the five-match series.
Moeen, who came out of Test retirement to replace the injured Jack Leach in this series, said Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum have given the team confidence they can chase down any total.
Since Stokes and McCullum took over last year, England have successfully chased challenging targets of 378, 299, 296 and 277, while they famously chased down 359 against Australia at Headingley in 2019 thanks to Stokes.
“Whatever they get we are going to have to try and chase,” added Moeen. “It’s still a decent wicket.
“We’ve got some brilliant players, the outfield is rapid and it takes a couple of guys to get in. I don’t know about the score – from this position we’d ideally like to chase 260.”
Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook told BBC Sport: “England will be able to chase 270. We keep saying it’s a really fair cricket wicket, it looks flat to bat on, but no-one has found batting easy apart from Mitchell Marsh.
“Over the last few years this pitch has got better and better, sides have chased well here, but 270, with the pressure on and the Ashes on the line, is the number.”
Australia captain Pat Cummins added: “It’s all set up for another wonderful match.
“[A target of] 300 would be good. But we bowl well, hopefully it starts to spin – we’ll look to defend anything.”
Headingley’s recent fourth-innings history
- 2023: Leicestershire chase 389 to beat Yorkshire in County Championship
- 2023: Yorkshire make 412-9, chasing 492, against Glamorgan to save a draw
- 2022: England chase 296 for the loss of three wickets to beat New Zealand
- 2019: Ben Stokes’ 135 not out takes England to one-wicket victory over Australia in pursuit of 359
- 2017: West Indies chase 322 for the loss of five wickets to beat England
- 2001: Mark Butcher’s 173 not out leads England home in chase of 315 against Australia
‘I’m pleased to reach 200’
England were still 121 behind Australia when Mark Wood launched a counter-attack of 24 off just eight deliveries, before Stokes embarked on another of his blistering knocks, helping to limit his side’s first-innings deficit to 26.
“We were struggling with the bat until Stokes and Wood let loose and gave us a chance,” said Moeen.
A topsy-turvy contest swung Australia’s way again when they moved to 68-1 and a lead of 94, but Moeen then took the key wickets of Labuschagne and Smith in successive overs before Chris Woakes removed Usman Khawaja.
Moeen is just the third England spinner to take 200 Test wickets, after Derek Underwood and Graeme Swann.
“I’m pleased to reach 200,” he said. “Those two wickets were gifted in a way but generally I bowled quite well.
“I didn’t think I was going to get any wickets on this, first innings I was bowling and it wasn’t spinning much, but today was nice because I tried to be aggressive and attacking.”