Cricket

Moeen Ali and Alex Hales make half-centuries as England brush aside Hong Kong

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Moeen Ali returned to form as England inflicted a 169-run defeat on Hong Kong in their one-day international warm-up match at the Sheikh Zayed Oval in Abu Dhabi.

There were heartening runs for all the right people as Eoin Morgan's team, batting first by prior arrangement, began their limited-overs campaign here by setting their associate opponents 342 for eight.

Then after David Willey (four for 43) struck twice with the new ball to see off both Hong Kong openers, the team ranked 15th in the world - to England's sixth - were unable to launch a credible chase.

There was nonetheless some fine batting from Babar Hayat (78) in an eventual total of 173 all out in 43 overs.

Moeen (71), Alex Hales (64) and Jos Buttler (38) all needed confidence-boosting runs after their various recent travails - and it was a case of mission accomplished for each of them.

A near perfect piece of preparation for the start of the ODI series against Pakistan on Wednesday was spoiled only when Buttler hurt the ring finger on his right hand while keeping wicket and may have a scan on the injury.

Jason Roy provided most of England's early momentum, with 42 off 32 balls in an opening stand of 63 with Hales, before he was lbw in the ninth over trying to push Tanwir Afzal to leg.

Hales moved past his 50 as Tanwir ran through a series of bowling changes, the last of which did the trick when Anshuman Rath made up for being deposited over square leg for a swept six by the opener when he deceived him with his next delivery and removed the off bail.

England's batsmen all made double-figures.

Joe Root, Morgan - in his first innings since being hit on the helmet by a Mitchell Starc bouncer at Old Trafford in September - and James Taylor will therefore all have handy runs under their belts.

Buttler put on 56, one of four half-century partnerships in the innings, with Moeen.

England's wicketkeeper-batsman, who was dropped for the third Test last week, began what coach Trevor Bayliss hopes will be his 're-emergence' with a cover-driven four off Nadeem Ahmed first ball.

He had just hit the slow left-armer over extra-cover for six when, trying to repeat the dose next ball, he was caught at long-off.

Moeen, also short of runs as a makeshift opener in England's Test series defeat against Pakistan, then made hay in the desert.

He hit five sixes in his 36-ball top score of the innings, eventually holing out at deep midwicket attempting another maximum, as England took a heavy toll of 100 in the last 10 overs.

It was hard to see Hong Kong's reply getting competitive - and so it proved.

Kinchit Shah was unfortunate to fall to a brilliant, diving catch at point by Roy off Willey - and the left-armer struck again in his next over when Rath was lbw shuffling across his stumps.

Reece Topley also got in the wicket column, Buttler pulling off a fine catch from an inside-edge to see off Nizakat Khan.

When England gave Jonny Bairstow a stint behind the stumps, it was part of the plan but a necessity too as it turned out.

Hong Kong were never going at a pace to challenge their target.

Babar and Chris Carter happily milked England's spinners as they more than doubled the score in a third-wicket stand of 81.

But two more quick wickets, Babar bowled trying to charge the returning Chris Woakes, confirmed Hong Kong's current limitations in this company.

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