By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) – England’s selectors have yet to decide who will open the batting alongside captain Alastair Cook against Pakistan later this month and will use two warm-up games to choose between Alex Hales or Moeen Ali, coach Trevor Bayliss said on Friday.
The identity of Cook’s partner and when to give leg-spinner Adil Rashid his test debut appear to be England’s two main selection dilemmas ahead of a first tussle with Pakistan since a 3-0 series whitewash in 2012 in the United Arab Emirates.
Hales, 26, struggled to make an impact opening England’s batting in a 3-2 ODI series defeat to Australia earlier this year and has yet to play a test.
Ali, 28, appears the safer option after making two half-centuries in eight innings as England reclaimed the Ashes from the Australians, although he has never opened at test level.
“We’ve got a few days of practice and a couple of warm-up games … before we select that last team,” Bayliss told a news conference in Dubai.
“It could get down to do we want an extra spinner, extra pace bowler, extra batter? Who opens the batting could be a consequence of that. I’m sure both those boys will get an opportunity.”
Rashid is vying for a spot in the first XI after ending a six-year absence from ODIs to produce some consistent bowling against Australia and New Zealand this year.
“I’m only one of two or three selectors, but my view is that he’ll play at some stage on this tour,” said Bayliss.
Pakistan have never lost a series in the UAE and will again play in their adopted home, while England have two warm-up games ahead of the first test in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 13.
(Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Pritha Sarkar)