CRICKET NEWS - Moeen Ali credited England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan for helping him end a run of low scores after he returned to form during the third Twenty20 international against Pakistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Moeen had made a mere 10 runs in four previous international innings this season, but his dashing 61 off just 33 balls, including four fours and as many sixes, helped England recover from 69-4 as they chased a target of 191.
But Pakistan, who saw veteran Mohammad Hafeez (86 not out) and teenage debutant Haider Ali (54) share a partnership of exactly 100, won a last-ball thriller by five runs to square a three-match series at 1-1, with one no result, in the final fixture of their tour of England.
One consolation for Moeen, however, was that Tuesday's innings represented his highest score in any form of international cricket since September 2017, when he made a century against the West Indies in a 50-over match at Bristol, southwest England.
Moeen told reporters after Tuesday's close he felt he "let the team down" during his run drought and thanked Morgan, England's World Cup-winning skipper, for his support.
"A lot of credit should go to Eoin Morgan," Moeen said. "He's given me the responsibility in terms of being the vice-captain and doing team talks here and there. To get that backing from the captain... it's one of the reasons he's the best captain I've had."
'Feel quite special'
Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen, who bowled Fakhar Zaman with his first-ball of off-spin on Tuesday, added of Morgan: "He gives me a lot of confidence. I haven't played well for a good period of time now and for my captain to think highly of me, for me that means a lot.
"He came up to me and said 'Would you like to give the team-talk?' It makes me feel responsible and a big part of the team. I have to back what I say as well, so I can't give the boys inspiration if I can't do it myself. It makes me feel me quite special among the boys and a big part of this team."
Moeen, asked what lay behind his run drought, said he had paid too much attention to "outside noise", although he accepted he had to take criticism "on the chin".
"I know it's only one game and I'm not going to get too far ahead, but I won't read what you guys (the press) write or what everyone else writes in general."
Moeen, who made his international debut in 2014, said he had needed to be like the "enthusiastic kid I was" when he first played for England.
"I've got to enjoy playing for England, it's a special team to be part of."
Meanwhile Moeen said he was ready to add his tally of 60 Test caps after ending his exile from red-ball international cricket earlier this year, although he accepted the likes of Dom Bess, Jack Leach and even Adil Rashid were ahead of him in the queue for a spinner's spot in Joe Root's side.
"It's a big winter so if I'm picked (for the Test team), I would play, that's for sure. If I get picked then brilliant, but if not then there's still a lot of cricket to be played."