England’s first two matches at the World Twenty20 have been dominated by bat over ball, but Moeen Ali’s bowling performances have offered real encouragement as the side swap Mumbai for Delhi.
England arrived in the Indian capital on Saturday night and will play their remaining Super 10 games, against Afghanistan on Wednesday and Sri Lanka three days later, at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
A bruised bowling attack will be hoping for some respite, having been twice pulled apart on a benign surface at the Wankhede Stadium – once by the maverick Chris Gayle and again by a South Africa side who then failed to defend 229.
In two outings they have shipped 24 sixes and 36 boundaries – but off-spinning all-rounder Moeen has fared best.
Although he saw his final three balls against the West Indies launched over the ropes by Gayle he has otherwise bowled with admirable control against the odds.
He is the only Englishman to bowl his full quota in both matches, tops the wicket-taking chart with three scalps and has the cheapest economy rate at nine runs per over.
On a Delhi pitch that England expect to be more receptive to turn, his partnership with Adil Rashid could yet become even more important, with uncapped slow left-armer Liam Dawson ready to join in if required.
All this and Moeen still readily admits he took some convincing to see himself as a spinner, first and foremost.
“I always felt if I was going to break into the England team it would be as a batsman,” he admitted. “That hasn’t worked out much and thankfully the bowling is what has kept me in the team.
“I’m bowling better than my batting now but I’m still hoping one day they can come together and I can play more like a genuine all-rounder.
“I always felt I tried to spin the ball a lot but the consistency was never there. I bowl a lot more than I used to now.
“I used to hardly practice, I’d bowl six or seven balls in the nets and think I was okay.
“Now it’s 60 or 70 balls minimum. I know it’s important for me and the team that I do well.
“I don’t see mine as the most important job but it is a key role.
“Whoever is in the XI will have a key role and hopefully the conditions will suit me, Rash and Liam if he bowls.”
England have travelled with a strong backroom team, with head coach Trevor Bayliss and assistant Paul Farbrace augmented by 2010 World T20-winning captain Paul Collingwood and pace coach Ottis Gibson.
Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene also advised on sub-continental batting during a 10-day consultancy stint in Mumbai, but perhaps curiously there is no spin specialist on board.
Moeen is phlegmatic about that, using the resources available to hone his game.
“It would be nice but Ottis has been a big help too, probably my biggest influence in the past year or six months,” said Moeen.
“He’s helped me a lot.”