Moeen Ali would probably not have played a Test innings like he did yesterday when he was faced with an on-song Bangladesh spin machine on the first day of the first Test in Chittagong.
The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium pitch was one tailor-made for spinners and led by debutant Mehedi Hasan Miraz's fifer, Bangladesh reduced England to 258 for seven at stumps.
But were it not for Ali's 170-ball 68 England, who were at one stage struggling at 21 for three and then 84 for four, the story could have been much worse. It is not just the subdued nature of the innings which makes it a unique one for someone of Ali's naturally aggressive style, but the fact that he was involved in five umpire decision reviews on a day that the third umpire was given a thorough working over.
Curiously, he was given out leg-before thrice to Shakib Al Hasan in the space of six balls officiated by Kumar Dharmasena either side of lunch, all of which he had successfully overturned, but the one time he would have been out, off Miraz's bowling when he was on one, the opposition chose not to review.
“Today was the hardest 60 I've ever made,” Ali said in the post-day press conference. “It was very tough. They bowled well. They bowled very accurately. And it's not just about surviving, it's about scoring runs. It's tough. They set good fields.”
Despite being seven down at the end of a day on which they won the toss, Ali thought England were in a decent position.
“Yeah, decent. We said at one point that 250 might even be a good score, but Jonny [Bairstow, who scored 52] and myself had a crucial partnership and Joe [Root] gave us a good start. We are going to have to be quite greedy tomorrow, and hopefully get close to 300,” Ali said.
Like most people, Ali was surprised by the amount of turn the pitch offered on the first day. “I thought they might open with a spinner but I didn't think it was going to spin as much. You saw the new ball… it spun straight away. And it's not easy to play against. Especially the new ball, as not every ball spins. After that it spun but more regularly which makes it a bit easier.”