Moeen Ali was typically understated about his brilliant performance with bat and ball as England took command on day two of the First Ashes Test, in Cardiff.

The all-rounder continued where he had left off on Wednesday 8 July, adding 51 runs to his overnight score and finishing on 77 as England posted a total of 430 all out before lunch.

And the off-spinner then took the vital wickets of world number-one batsman Steve Smith and Aussie captain Michael Clarke, the latter caught and bowled, as Australia finished the day on 266 for five, still 166 runs behind.

Read IBTimes UK sports editor Nick Howson's match report from Cardiff

Yet Ali refused to get carried away by his own performance, preferring as his career highlight the winning catch he made at Lord's as England beat New Zealand in the First Test in May.

"It's always nice to play for England, and that catch against New Zealand was probably my best day. I'm not too fussed whether it is the Ashes or who we are playing against. I just go out and try to play the same way I do every day. I was happy with both bat and ball, but the main thing was to help the team," he said.

Moeen Ali
Ali made 77 to push England beyond 400 Getty Images

Ali was more excited by taking the scalps of Smith and Clarke. "Yes, they were definitely two big wickets, especially in the context of the game. They are two big players and it was nice to get them out," he added.

Ali says England are now in command, after Ben Stokes snared Adam Voges late in the day to leave Australia with only five wickets remaining. "I think we are ahead now. That last wicket put us in pole position, and hopefully with a couple of early wickets before the new ball we can get these guys out a bit cheaper tomorrow," he said.

Ali's selection was in some doubt before this Test, and he admits he is still not back to the form he showed against India last summer. "I don't feel like I am quite there yet, but this is a difficult series because these guys [Australia] are going to attack me more than India did last year, so I'm trying to develop a few things, mix my pace, and varying my bowling," he said.

Smith hit him for three fours in an over before Ali tempted the batsman to give Alistair Cook a simple catch, after England's captain returned from treatment for a painful ball into the groin.

"He (Cook) was a bit worried but he's OK now," said Ali.

"Smith is a very aggressive player who can take you down, but he can also give you a chance as a bowler. I'm always telling myself that I am one ball away from taking a wicket, so it was pleasing to get him out," he added.