His occupation of the crease on the first night and the second morning helped England get past the benchmark of 400 and a personal score of 77. These were valuable runs for a batsman who despite one Test century already has only an average of nearly 28. There was undoubtedly pressure on Ali coming in at 8 in the order where he will have to firstly shepherd the tail and face the new ball versus the left handed pace of Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc.
The reason Ali needs the runs is to validate his inclusion in the side as our front line spinner until England come across a pitch that warrants the inclusion of both he and Adil Rashid, whose prominence in the one day series versus New Zealand.
England's positioning of Ali so low in the order is because of his security and responsibility with tail enders, but there is a distinct possibility that Ali may well be elevated up the order should the continued drought of runs for Ian Bell persist.
Bell, currently at four, has struggled to get into double figures of late and looks most likely to be dropped should England go behind in the series. Ali would likely go to five with first innings centurion Joe Root going to four in Bell's place, hence the need for runs for Ali before a promotion up the order. This would allow England to position Rashid at eight or a fast bowling alternative like Chris Jordan or Chris Woakes, an individual who can score vital lower order runs against the Australian attack.
Ali also needs to take wickets and his dismissal of Steve Smith has warranted inclusion yet much like Australia destroyed the end of Graeme Swann's career by attacking him out of he test side, Ali has also been targeted by Smith and Chris Rogers on the second day. This has always been a negative of Ali as he does not yet have the control to stop the flow of runs at one end of the innings like Swann was capable of, perhaps Rashid with his greater experience of bowling may provide the resolution but who is to say the Australians will not treat his leg spin with the same disdain.
Whilst captain Alastair Cook cited Ben Stokes as the possible difference maker for this Ashes series with his gusto and fiery brand of play reminiscent of Botham and Flintoff past, perhaps it will be the mild-mannered unassuming professional from Birmingham who will hold the key to the urn.
Moeen with his lower order runs and wicket taking knack could change various innings in this series this summer.