23 February 2015
Moeen heroics give England first points
Opener hits brilliant 128 and picks up two wickets in 119-run win over Scotland
Even when he was not to the pitch of the ball, Moeen Ali was able to control it, hitting into gaps or over fielders.
England went into the game with an unchanged team. Put in to bat under overcast skies, England’s openers were circumspect at the start.
But once the ball stopped swinging, Moeen Ali took full toll. Hipster beard waving in the Christchurch breeze, Moeen swung his bat in clean arcs, his hands coming through the line with flair that would have done Saeed Anwar proud.
Even when he was not to the pitch of the ball, Moeen was able to control it, hitting into gaps or over fielders. Bell, meanwhile, gave Moeen good company with 54 from 85 balls.
Moeen brought up his half-century in only 39 balls, and when he acknowledged the crowd’s cheers upon reaching hundred, there were enough overs left in the innings for him to have a comfortable crack at Robin Smith’s England record score of 167 that has stood for a staggering 22 years.
England had laid a fantastic platform, getting to 172 for no loss at the 30-over mark, but Bell punched one straight to mid-off, and soon after Moeen (128) slogged one to the midwicket fielder. Scotland, sensed this was its best opportunity to strike, pounced.
Ballance fell for 10 off 18 balls, Joe Root tickled Davey to the ‘keeper, and England had lost four wickets for 23 runs in the space of six overs. In five Power Play overs, England managed 22 runs, losing two wickets.
Eoin Morgan began the rescue operation with James Taylor, but the two were forced to consolidate early on. Scotland sneaked in a few quiet overs, and with the partnership on 49, the batsmen looking to get a move on. But Scotland struck once more.
Taylor shuffled down the pitch to Davey, who fired the ball in wide and Matthew Cross, the wicketkeeper, smartly gloved the ball and dove back to break the stumps. It was the kind of stumping that lifted the entire fielding team, a moment of brilliance.
That brought Buttler to the crease with a bit of time to tee up the big shots. Unorthodox, but always looking to be aggressive, Buttler’s 24 from 14 balls lifted the innings, and Morgan joined in the home-stretch fun. Clearing his front leg and tonking the ball back down the ground with power, Morgan collected a 42-ball 46 to take England to 303 for 8.
Scotland was full of optimism when they began its innings, but the scoreboard pressure and the extra pace of the England attack proved challenging. Kyle Coetzer hit the ball sweetly at the top of the order, clattering his way to 71 even as wickets fell with regularity at the other end.
Once it was three down for only 54, the chase was in deep trouble. Scotland was bowled out for 184 in the 43rd over, giving England victory by 119 runs.
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