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Spin battle key for Moeen

By Dominic Farrell

England Lions batsman Moeen Ali was happy with his efforts on a day when runs were hard to come by against Sri Lanka A Emerging Players.

Captain Chris Woakes elected to bat but wickets fell at regular intervals and Worcestershire’s Moeen was the only man to reach 50 in a total of 201 all out.

The hosts faired little better, closing on 92 for four as the Lions’ opening three-day match of their tour progressed apace.

Moeen Ali enjoyed the challenge of tackling some high-class spin bowling to bring up 53 on the opening day of England Lions' tour

Durham’s Mark Wood was England’s hero with the ball, taking 3-18 from eight excellent overs that included the dismissal of dangerman Bhanuka Rajapaksa for a blistering 60 – county colleague Scott Borthwick holding his third catch of the innings in sensational fashion.

Earlier, Tharindu Kaushal was the Lions’ chief tormentor as he claimed 5-57 and the off-spinner was backed up well by 2-44 from slow left-armer Chatura Randunu.

Both players impressed Moeen in a contest he believes is evenly poised.

“I feel good now that we’ve got them four down,” he told ecb.co.uk.

“Personally, I played alright today. It’s just important to spend some time in the middle.

“They had a couple of good spinners. The left-arm spinner was very accurate and Kaushal is hard to pick, has got a good doosra and stuff.

“I felt I played him alright in the end but we’ve got to watch out for the offie, I reckon.”

Of more immediate concern to Moeen are early wickets from the Lions attack tomorrow morning – something he believes is vital given the depth of the Sri Lankan batting line-up.

“I think it’s very important that we have a good start tomorrow because the guys here bat until nine, 10, 11,” he said.

“So we’ve got to make sure we start well tomorrow, get a couple of early poles and then hopefully wrap them up.”

Another three-day game will follow this one against the same opponents before a three-match series versus Sri Lanka A, and Moeen is relishing a busy month of cricket in sub-continental conditions.

“I’ve been here a couple of times before and it’s a great place to come and play,” he added.

“It’s hot, obviously, but the people are nice and the training has been very intense and rewarding.”

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