World Twenty20: Moeen Ali upbeat despite England's horrible form
Newcomer ready to prove himself at top level
Thursday 20 March 2014
England's form going into their World Twenty20 opener against New Zealand on Saturday leaves plenty to be desired, but newcomer Moeen Ali believes he can make an instant mark on international cricket.
The Worcestershire batsman, who prefers to be known as an all-rounder due to his tidy off-spin, has been one of county cricket's most prolific scorers in recent seasons. He was a beneficiary of England's post-Ashes review – and not least Kevin Pietersen's controversial sacking – earning a call-up for this month's tournament here in Bangladesh.
Moeen made a solid start in the 2-1 one-day series victory against the West Indies, scoring an invaluable 55 in the third and deciding game in Antigua, but contributed just eight runs in two Twenty20 matches in Barbados. He also featured in both of England's Twenty20 warm-up defeats against West Indies and India – where he top-scored with 46.
But while England may be struggling desperately for form heading into the tough Group One opener against New Zealand here, 26-year-old Moeen is in upbeat mood.
"I'm finding it really good being with England and making the most of my time with the coaches and players," he said. "This is the top level and I've wanted to play at this level for a long time. I'm enjoying it a lot and I'm just trying to make the most of it.
"I was happy with the innings against India. Maybe I could have had a bit more energy at the start of the innings. I caught up in the end, but I don't like losing so the result was a bit disappointing.
"I'm not going to be too down about it, I batted all right and the team can definitely take encouragement from the last game. They are a top Twenty20 side, one of the favourites to win, so to play like we did against them was a positive."
Despite Moeen's optimistic outlook, Ashley Giles could hardly have asked for a tougher assignment as he attempts to push his claims for the vacant position of head coach.
Captain Stuart Broad's knee injury has restricted him to only two overs since arriving in Bangladesh, at least half of his likely starting XI appear distinctly out of form and scoring quickly off spin bowling remains an unsolved conundrum.
One of those problems seems closer to being resolved than the others, with all signs that Broad will be ready to lead the side against New Zealand and play a full part in the tournament.
His reduced role in the India match meant he did not captain, with Eoin Morgan again deputising, but his mere presence lifted the side.
"It was brilliant to see Broady back and bowling two overs," added Moeen.
"It was a massive boost for the team when he came on to the pitch, which was very pleasing, and we hope he'll be fit to play from the start of the tournament.
"He gives us a bit of balance, he's a bit different to the rest of our bowlers. With all his experience and being our leader, it's always nice to see him on the pitch."
Hong Kong chase down target to shock hosts
Hong Kong pulled off a huge shock by beating Bangladesh, but the hosts still qualified for the World Twenty20 main draw on run rate.
Bangladesh were expected to romp past winless Hong Kong, but were dismissed for 108 in 16.3 overs. Hong Kong then had to reach their target within 14 overs to ruin the party for the hosts and help Nepal advance instead. But Hong Kong also struggled to score and had to wait until the last over to claim their maiden World T20 victory.
Ireland hope to have key batsman Paul Stirling available for their decisive game against the Netherlands.
Stirling was struck on the elbow off his first ball and retired hurt in the victory over United Arab Emirates.
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