CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) – Moeen Ali expressed the relief of the entire England team after his century against Scotland provided the platform for their first win of this World Cup on Monday.
“We just said thank God for winning the game,” said Ali, a practising Muslim, after Monday’s victory by 119 runs at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval finally got England’s World Cup campaign up and running.
“Hopefully now we can go on a run and win the next three,” he added.
Ali made 128 and shared a first-wicket stand of 172 with Ian Bell before England, who had been on course for a huge total, suffered a decline that saw them finish on 303 for eight.
But that proved more than enough to see off non-Test nation Scotland, who were dismissed for just 184, with off-spinner Ali taking two wickets to add to his hundred.
It was a desperately needed win for England following thumping Pool A defeats by tournament co-hosts Australia (111 runs) and New Zealand (eight wickets).
Nevertheless, it still left England outside the top four-placing they will need if they are to emerge out of the seven-strong group and into the quarter-finals.
“It’s nice to get a bit of form going into the next game,” said Ali ahead of England’s clash with 1996 champions Sri Lanka in Wellington on Sunday. “It’s nice to get a winning hundred.”
England captain Eoin Morgan said “today was all about a win” as he accepted the innings had fallen away after Ali and Bell shared the highest opening stand of the tournament to date.
“It was important for us to focus on what we do,” said Morgan. “Losing the toss and batting first when the ball could move about a bit, the two openers set a great platform. Losing batsmen set us back but we recovered really well and got a good score.”
Left-hander Morgan, after a run of low scores, spent some valuable time in the middle while making 46.
“Today was all about a win, it was nice for me to get some runs and I thought we were really good with the ball,” the former Ireland batsman said.
“We didn’t sit and sulk about past performances, guys put in performances.”
Scotland came into this match with high hopes of recording their first one-day international win over a Test-playing nation but in the end were well-beaten by their border rivals, despite four wickets for Josh Davey and a stylish 71 from opener Kyle Coetzer.
“We would have liked a few more early wickets,” said Scotland captain Preston Mommsen. “We came back well but then unfortunately with the bat we just couldn’t quite get going.”