Bangladesh v England Second Test Betting: Moeen is now England's main man

Celebrations as England seal the first Test
Celebrations as England seal the first Test

Ben Stokes wasn't the only hero of England's first Test victory. Ralph Ellis says it's time Moeen Ali was given the credit he deserves...


"Alastair Cook has said he plans to rotate his side for Friday’s Second Test to make sure everybody has some experience of the conditions before getting to India, but surely Stokes and Ali are the two who must play."

It didn't take much of a genius to name the man of the match in England's first Test win in Bangladesh. Ben Stokes was the original Boys Own hero, smashing a crucial 82 runs and twice bowling out the tail.

But England had another all-round star, and it is time that somebody gave Moeen Ali a bit more credit for the huge contribution he makes in every form of cricket.

I'm forever hearing people put down the 29-year-old. The Test Match Special team spend hours debating which spinner should be picked in front of him. He's even a bit guilty of it himself - tweeting this morning that Stokes was the hero of a nail biting win.

But this was the Test where Ali proved himself with both bat and ball. Asked to come in at number five in the latest tweak to the interminably brittle top order he came in on the first morning at 21-3, and it was his gutsy 68 that set up some form of a fightback. If he did get given out three times in six balls, only to be reprieved by DRS on each occasion, that was a sign of his refusal to quit.

He also collected five wickets across the five days, three of them with 'magic' deliveries that took advantage of the turning pitch. And the other thing about Ali is he takes big wickets at crucial moments of matches - in this case bowling opener Imrul Kayes for the first breakthrough when Bangladesh batted first, then getting Tamim Iqbal caught to prevent a meaningful opening partnership next time round.

Alastair Cook has said he plans to rotate his side for Friday's Second Test to make sure everybody has some experience of the conditions before getting to India. The heat and humidity takes its toll, so it makes sense to rest a few.

But surely Stokes and Ali are the two who must play in Dhaka on Friday. Having ground out a win that - just as Matthew Hoggard warned in his Betfair Big Interview - was far from simple, Cook can't take the chance of being without his two best performers if he wants to clinch the series.

The early market suggests England could be close to even money to win this time (the current spread is between 1.75/7 and 2.01/1), and providing Stokes and Ali stay in the side that would have to be worth backing.

While Alex Hales stayed home because he worried about security, Ali has embraced everything about this tour. He's even brought his wife and small son with him (she is from Bangladesh and they met four years ago on tour).

That confidence in the surroundings has almost certainly helped put the rest of the players at ease, and even when things were getting tight this morning as the runs needed for a home victory were slowly reduced to the 20s, you always had the sense that England would find a breakthrough.

There's forever been a debate about whether Ali is really a batsman who bowls a bit, or whether he deserves his place as a bowler only because he chips in a few runs. Chittagong has been the match where he's proved he's a genuine all-rounder.


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