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Seven-match T20I series against Pakistan will be a stern test ahead of T20 World Cup: Moeen

Karachi, Sep 19 (IANS) England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who will deputise for skipper Jos Buttler in the T20I series against England beginning here on Tuesday, has said the seven-match fixture will be a stern test for the side as it prepares for the T20 World Cup in Australia next month, adding there was extra responsibility on him given that Eoin Morgan had retired and Jonny Bairstow had suffered a freak injury.

Moeen also said coming to play in Pakistan, where his grandfather lived before he migrated to England, was the “most special” feeling.

“Of course, this tour is important for cricket and it is also crucial for us as a side. Seven T20s will be a stern test in these conditions and a good pointer for where we are, ahead of the (T20) World Cup in Australia next month,” said Moeen, who is leading the England men’s side for the first time since 2005, in Daily Mail on Monday.

Moeen added it was agonising to lose to New Zealand in the ICC T20 World Cup semifinal in the UAE last year, adding that the side had undergone a lot of changes following that loss with Butter now at the helm and Australian Matthew Mott being the team’s head coach.

“Our side has undergone some change since last year’s agonising defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup semifinal and the retirement of Eoin Morgan and the freak injury to Jonny Bairstow means that personally, there is some extra responsibility on my shoulders as one of the seniors but it is something I am looking forward to.”

“Indeed, it is the first time an England men’s side has come to Pakistan since 2005. I was 18 then. I’m 35 now and I must admit I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time. The fact that England are here is huge and it definitely feels like there is something to it.

“When my grandfather Shafayat came to England from Pakistan after the Second World War, I doubt even he would have imagined that his grandson would return to the country of his heritage and represent his adopted country as a professional sportsman. I have been privileged enough to do many overseas trips as an England cricketer from Australia to South Africa to the Caribbean but this tour to Pakistan might be the most special of the lot,” he added.

Moeen added the fact that several of his team-mates had played in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will make the T20I series keenly contested.

“Quite a few of the squad, including myself, have played in the PSL and trust me, the love and the passion for the game in this area of the world is second to none. I have been here a few times now but sharing this journey with Adil Rashid, who is also of Pakistani heritage, was a particularly proud moment.”

–IANS

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