Moeen Ali missed the opportunity to enhance his claim to open the England batting alongside Alastair Cook in the upcoming three-match Test series against Pakistan, making just 22 in the opening tour match in the United Arab Emirates. Ali was given the nod ahead of Alex Hales to start the first warm-up game against Pakistan A but was unable to take advantage during an otherwise encouraging day for the tourists.
Ali and Cook put on 44 for the first wicket before the former top-edged Zia-ul-Haq straight to Fawad Alam as his innings ended prematurely. Elsewhere, it was a morale-boosting day for England with four players reaching half-centuries as they closed on 286 for 5 in Sharjah. Trevor Bayliss's side had complained of temperatures approaching 100 degrees since arriving in the UAE, but spin would represent their greatest challenge on the opening day of their winter schedule.
Cook (53), Joe Root (59) – who retired unhurt – Jonny Bairstow (66) and Adil Rashid (51) all reach significant milestones as a Pakistan second string including Misbah-ul-Haq and Junaid Khan toiled. It was not all plain sailing for England however as Ian Bell made 19 while Ben Stokes (6) and Jos Buttler (1) failed to get into double figures.
The trials of Buttler will be of particular concern for the Lancashire wicketkeeper, who after averaging 15.25 during the five-match Ashes series is under severe pressure from Bairstow over his role behind the stumps. The Yorkshire middle-order batsman has only kept wicket twice in Tests, both coming during the harrowing whitewash by Australia in 2013-14, but his 66 will have bolstered his chances of being considered for a recall for the first Test in Abu Dhabi, which starts on 13 October.
After a pair of two-day warm-up games, England face Pakistan in three Tests, four day/night one-day internationals and three T20 matches across October and November. Cook's team then face South Africa in an 11-game tour across all three formats from December to February.