England v Pakistan: Moeen Ali display as opener 'encouraging'

Moeen Ali and Alistair Cook
Moeen Ali (left) and Alastair Cook added 44 for the first wicket in Sharjah

England were "encouraged" by Moeen Ali's display as an opening batsman in the drawn tour match with Pakistan A, says assistant coach Paul Farbrace.

Moeen, 28, made 22 in Sharjah following his elevation to partner captain Alastair Cook at the top of the order.

"He did really well," said Farbrace, who said Alex Hales is also in contention to open in the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

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Root backs Moeen at top of order

"We were pleased with how Moeen and Cookie applied themselves."

The first Test of the three-match series starts on 13 October in Abu Dhabi.

Off-spinning all-rounder Moeen, who took 3-41 on a slow wicket, has opened the batting for Worcestershire and in 20 of his 27 one-day internationals for England.

However, he has never done so in Test cricket and batted at eight in the recent Ashes series, with Adam Lyth - dropped for the trip to the UAE - preferred as Cook's partner.

"It's not something different; he has opened in the past," said Farbrace.

"We're very encouraged by what we've seen. We think he's got the credentials to do it, no doubt, but we have options when it comes to opening the batting."

Can Buttler find his form?

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler struggled with the bat during this summer's Ashes, scoring 122 runs at an average of 15.25, and he made only one during England's 286-5 declared on Monday.

Asked if he had any concerns about the Lancashire player's form, Farbrace said: "None whatsoever.

"Yes, we want him to score runs but he's practised well and works very hard. I have no doubt a score is just around the corner for him."

Mahela Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene averaged 49.84 in 149 Tests for Sri Lanka

'Magnificent input and a magnificent bloke'

Former Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene, who played 149 Tests and 448 ODIs, is working as a batting consultant for England in the United Arab Emirates.

"He has been excellent," said Farbrace, who coached Jayawardene, 38, during his time in charge of Sri Lanka.

"It is not just his advice for batting against spin but everything, from fielding at slip to the tactical side of things and his insight into the Pakistan side and how the Sri Lanka team think when they play against them.

"His input is magnificent, he is a magnificent bloke and he has given everything to our team.

"We are trying to get the most we can out of him before he goes back to Colombo."

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