England give Moeen Ali opening chance against Sri Lanka A

Moeen Ali
Moeen Ali has scored 185 runs in five ODI innings at a strike-rate of 96.35
England in Sri Lanka 2014
Dates: 21 November - 16 December
Coverage: Live commentary of all seven one-day internationals on Test Match Special, plus live texts on the BBC Sport website

Moeen Ali will open the batting with England captain Alastair Cook against Sri Lanka A in Friday's warm-up for the one-day series between the countries.

The batsman, who also bowls off-spin, is chosen ahead of Alex Hales who made his one-day international debut in last summer's series defeat by India.

Cook described it as an "incredibly hard" decision, and said: "We wanted to have another bowler in our top six.

"It's a really tough call on Alex but this is not our final decision."

Coach Peter Moores, who also confirmed that Ian Bell will bat at number three, added: "Alex has progressed quickly.

"The fact he has managed to climb to number one in the world as a T20 player means there is a lot of talent there - and explosive talent at that.

"When you play international cricket and come up against the same team time and again, people will always find a kink somewhere - and the key is how you adapt.

"India started to bring the ball back into Alex and bowl spin at him, so he has to decide what else he is going to come back at them with."

England's opening dilemma
CookBellHalesMoeen
ODIs as opener866543
Runs3,0852,423 92109
Highest score1371264255
Average37.6240.382336.33
Strike rate77.5777.9168.6581.34
Balls faced3,9773,110134134

Cook, who has scored 3,085 ODI runs at a strike-rate of 77.57, has been under pressure with the likes of former England team-mate Graeme Swann suggesting "he's not the guy who should be opening the batting in one-day cricket for England".

However, the 29-year-old has said he will not quit as one-day skipper, while national selector James Whitaker confirmed the Essex left-hander will lead the side at next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Bell was Cook's regular partner until he was replaced by Notts opener Hales, 25, in the summer, while Moeen, 27, has opened three times in five ODIs.

With specialist opener Cook unlikely to move down the order, England have seven one-day games against Sri Lanka and a triangular series against Australia and India in January to find the right man to bat with him.

The first ODI takes place in Colombo on 26 November, starting at 09:00 GMT.

"We've got to try to win this tour first. But it would be daft not to be thinking forward to the World Cup," Moores added.

"We're trying to move to be a more positive side, with both bat and ball, take every opportunity to score runs and put pressure on the opposition. It's not a simple process to say 'I'm going to walk out and whack it'."

Moores referenced Rohit Sharma's world record ODI knock of 264 for India against Sri Lanka last week as a good example of how to build a one-day innings.

"Rohit started slowly, and then suddenly found freedom and played beautifully," he said.

"We've got to do that. It's not actually complicated. You've just got to find your way of doing it as an individual, and a team."

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