Moeen Ali inspired England to start their tour of Sri Lanka in flying style as their preparations for the 2015 World Cup got under way with a 56-run victory over Sri Lanka A via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
The star of the show was the surprise option to open alongside captain Alastair Cook and he looks to have taken his chance with a quick fire 56 which included hitting every ball of the first over he faced to the boundary ropes as the opening pair set the platform to chase the 199 victory target.
After a rain delayed start, the hosts won the toss at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo in a game that was reduced to 43 overs each due to the lack of floodlights at the ground where England have been netting in their opening week on tour.
The unfortunate players to miss out were opener Alex Hales, batsman James Taylor, all-rounder Ravi Bopara and bowler Harry Gurney which meant Steven Finn and Chris Jordan were given a chance to stake a claim for the bowling spots, in the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
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However, Ali’s fine contribution with the bat was where his display ended as he also claimed three wickets and a catch with England restricted the Sri Lankan reserves to 198-6.
Finn shared the new ball with Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes and it was the Middlesex seamer that claimed the first wicket with Kaushal Silva caught behind by Jos Buttler in the third over with England claiming wickets at regular intervals in humid conditions.
It wasn’t long until Ali and Tredwell came into the attack and they helped control the middle overs of the innings with the man of the match taking the wickets of Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal and Thilina Kandamby which had them reeling on 105-5 after opting to bat.
Ben Stokes claimed a sole wicket while Finn grabbed his second, removing opener Kusal Perera but perhaps the most consistent bowler was Woakes who finished with economical figures of eight overs for just 20 runs.
With the destructive Hales sat in the stands there was plenty of pressure on Ali and Cook to start with a quick tempo and that they certainly did with the tourists scoring 25 off their second over of their chase. Vishwa Fernando was the unfortunate bowler as Ali tucked into him by smashing all six legitimate balls for four while he also bowled a wide to help England off to a rapid start.
The Worcestershire all-rounder didn’t hold back and he continued his rampage and reached his half-century off 21 balls before he finally misjudged a big shot and ended up being caught for 56 off 37 balls.
Cook soon joined Ali in reaching 50 which included six fours and a six before departing for 54 at an impressive strike-rate of just under 90. Ian Bell and Joe Root then steadied the ship and had built a 29 run partnership when the players were forced to leave the field with decreasing light and rain clouds looming.
The stumps were soon pulled out which brought an end to a worthwhile workout for England as they beat Sri Lanka A by 56-runs via the D/L method.
Cook doesn’t have long until he leads his country once again as the final warm up game takes place on Sunday before the first of seven One Day Internationals gets under way in Colombo on Wednesday.
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