Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow were England's star duo on a compelling first day of the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong. The 29-year-old all-rounder top-scored with 68 from 170 balls and Bairstow chipped in with an untypically patient 52 as England ended the day on 258/7.
Their diligence was much-needed, as England slipped to a precarious-looking 21/3 early in the morning session after winning the toss and batting first. Debutant Ben Duckett (14), captain Alastair Cook (4) and Gary Ballance (1) all failed to make a meaningful contribution on a slow, turning wicket that offered plenty of assistance to Bangladesh's battery of spin bowlers.
Joe Root helped steady the ship with an assured 40, before he was caught at first slip off Bangladesh's teenage off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who finished with figures of 5/64 on his debut.
However, the efforts of Bairstow and Ali ensured England were not dismissed for a sub-par score on a wicket that is bound to deteriorate in the coming days. Ali survived five reviews only for the decision to be overturned by the DRS, and the one appeal that Bangladesh decided not to review showed he would have been given out.
Ali and Bairstow, both of whom are natural boundary-hitters, were prepared to bide their time and wait for the bowlers to err in length. "Bangladesh had a great start and the wicket was spinning a bit so it's not a bad total in the end, although we need a few more tomorrow," Ali later told Sky Sports. "We didn't expect it to spin as much as it has done. It spun with the new ball and has been a very tough pitch."
The tourists – who picked three spinners in their attack, in Ali, Adil Rashid and Gareth Batty – will feel they already have a competitive total on the board, given the turn on offer. Chris Woakes (36 not out) and Rashid (five not out) were both unbeaten at the close, with England eyeing a score in excess of 300 on day two.