SHARJAH - James Taylor and Ian Bell hit half-centuries in the drawn two-day game against Pakistan 'A' on Friday, to gear up for the more challenging three-Test series starting next week. Taylor hit 61 and Bell scored 53 as England made an unimpressive 198-9 on the second and final day at Sharjah cricket ground.

Pakistan 'A' had made 192-9 declared in their knock. But apart from Taylor and Bell only Jos Buttler made any significant contribution with 39, while openers Alex Hales (nine) and Moeen Ali also failed with seven. That leaves England's problems over top order batting unresolved as they want either Ali or Hales to partner skipper Alastair Cook in the first of three Tests against Pakistan starting in Abu Dhabi on October 13. Since the match was a non-first class encounter, Ali was allowed two innings but he only managed 11 in the second outing. His bowling being a plus point may earn him a place in the first Test. Jonny Bairstow, who made a half-century in the first warm-up match, fell for nought while all-rounder Ben Stoke also failed to score, his second failure on the tour.

Bell and Taylor added 102 for the third wicket before the later retired to give others some batting practice. Bell hit four boundaries and a six during his sedate 100-ball stint. Taylor knocked six boundaries during his 123-ball stay. For Pakistan 'A' left-arm paceman Mir Hamza finished with 4-34 while Junaid Khan and Zafar Gohar took two wickets apiece. The two teams will also play four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals after the Tests.

Moeen Ali likely to open against Pakistan, says Bayliss: England will "more than likely" open with Moeen Ali in the first Test against Pakistan, Trevor Bayliss has told Sky Sports News HQ.

The left-hander was out twice in a day on the final day of England's second warm-up against Pakistan A, making just seven and 13 as the tourists batted all day regardless of wickets lost.

But Alex Hales, Moeen's main rival for the spare opener's role, managed only nine in what is his only innings to date on the tour of the United Arab Emirates.

Asked afterwards whether Moeen is the likelier partner for Alastair Cook come Tuesday morning, head coach Bayliss said: "We haven't actually sat down and made a final decision - it's a tough one - but I think more than likely [it will be] that way. That's probably giving something away there!" Moeen batted at No 8 during the Ashes and goes into the three-match series as England's No 1 spinner, although Adil Rashid is also in line to feature.

Bayliss said: "He's obviously got to bowl as well, and we've got to take that into consideration. We know as well what an explosive player Alex Hales can be at the top of the order, and I think it'll be important to get away at the top of the order against that new ball. But certainly Moeen showed during the Ashes he's good under pressure and can play pace and spin.”

I'll sit down with the selectors out here over the next couple of days and finalise that team."




M Ali lbw b Hamza 20

A Hales c Iftikhar b Hamza 9

I Bell retired out 53

J Taylor lbw b Asghar 61

B Stokes b Iftikhar 0

J Buttler c Khurram b Hamza 39

S Patel c Adnan b Junaid 8

J Bairstow c Adnan b Hamza 0

A Rashid st Adnan b Zafar 2

L Plunkett st Adnan b Zafar 1

EXTRAS: (lb2, w2, nb1) 5

TOTAL: (9 wkts; 78 overs) 198

FOW: 1-10, 2-16, 3-122, 4-126, 5-126, 6-132, 7-136, 8-163, 9-198

BOWLING: Junaid Khan 12-1-28-2, Mir Hamza 16-4-34-4, Ehsan Adil 3-0-18-0, Zafar Gohar 16-2-47-2, Zia-ul-Haq 6-3-11-0, M Asghar 14-1-43-1, Iftikhar Ahmed 9-5-11-1, Khurram Manzoor 1-0-1-0, Fawad Alam 1-0-3-0

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: Iftikhar Ali, Shozab Raza