Ali begins Sri Lanka tour on a high

All-rounder Moeen Ali will be expected to play a key role if England want to do well in their multi-format tour of Sri Lanka. The 31-year-old was impressive in his first outing, picking up 3 for 42 as England defeated Sri Lanka XI in a one-day practice match on Friday.

Dinesh Chandimal (77) and Kamindu Mendis (61) scored half-centuries as the home team posted a total of 287 for 9 in their 50 overs. In reply, England were 215 for 2 in 35.3 overs, courtesy Joe Root’s 90* and Eoin Morgan’s 91*, before rain arrived and the visiting team was declared victorious by 43 runs via DLS method.

Sri Lanka and England will be involved in a five-match One-Day International series, starting October 10th. The two teams will then play a solitary Twenty20 International before the focus shifts to the three-match Test series, commencing November 6th.

“It’s always nice to tour somewhere where you think you’re going to play a big role – it does give you that extra bit more,” said Moeen. “It’s never a guarantee that you’re going to go well. I’ve had that experience as well, going to India and stuff. You’ve got to stay calm about it – can’t get too far ahead.”

Moeen has been in good form in recent times. He did well in the last two Tests that he played against India and then led Worcestershire to the Vitality T20 Blast title. Even on Friday, the three wickets that he took were of batsmen who have represented Sri Lanka in at least two formats of the game – Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis.

“It’s good for my own confidence to get a couple of wickets up front against two of their more international type of players,” gushed Moeen. “It was nice to get them in the Powerplay. These guys are used to these conditions, and they are good players in these conditions. It’s not going to be as easy as people think, but as a spinner you do have things in your favour, and that always helps.

“I thought we bowled well as a team to keep them down – it was a very good wicket. It was nice to come out and break that partnership initially and then to get the other guy out. It was good for your confidence.”

Chasing a decent target, England lost their openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow quite early. However, Root and Morgan joined hands for an unbeaten 174-run stand and took the game away from Sri Lanka XI. Moeen seemed pretty impressed by the way his captain Morgan played.

“He’s a fantastic player of spin, and I personally love the way he plays when he plays like this – with intent. It’s great to see some of the shots that he played today,” said Moeen.

The last time England played an ODI series in Sri Lanka in 2014 they received a 2-5 beating at the hands of the hosts. However, the current England limited-overs sideĀ is altogether a different beast. As the top-ranked ODI side, Moeen said it was important to commence the tour with a win.

“As the No. 1 side now, you don’t want to come here and start with a loss, especially to a side that’s not their main side. The philosophy that Trev (Bayliss) and Morg have tried to emphasise is that we need to win these games quite comfortably. As a side you don’t want to stumble.” (Courtesy News 18)


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