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Moeen welcomes underdog tag
Moeen Ali has embraced England's tag as "underdogs" at the World Twenty20 but insists they are still planning for an unlikely victory in Bangladesh.
The 2010 champions will get their campaign under way in Chittagong on Saturday when they face New Zealand, but expectations of Ashley Giles' side are low.
They are ranked eighth in the world by the International Cricket Council, only marginally ahead of neighbours Ireland, and have won only one of their past eight matches in the format.
Their form in Bangladesh is also a cause for concern, with successive defeats at the hands of West Indies and India in their pre-tournament warm-ups.
Moeen, who has yet to make his Twenty20 debut due to the unofficial status of this week's practice fixtures, accepts England's position among the outsiders but is unbowed by it.
"I think we're underdogs, I think with our build-up you have to be realistic and say that, but we were world champions not long ago, so we've got some top players, guys who have got a lot of experience," he said.
"We're going in to win the tournament as underdogs.
"If we have a good tournament, people will forget it (recent form). The winter has been tough for England, everyone knows that, but we've just got to keep going as a whole collective.
"We've got to be strong and positive.
"You can't write anybody off in this tournament."
Moeen's England call came following Kevin Pietersen's controversial axing and was a reward for a consistent weight of runs in all formats for Worcestershire.
He has hardly had the gentlest of introductions, given the side's recent struggles, but the 26-year-old is relishing his time at the top table nonetheless.
"It's probably even better than I thought it would be," he said.
"The guys have helped me settle in really well, so everything's looking good.
"I'm loving every minute of it, I'm enjoying all my practices, I'm enjoying everything around being with the guys and the coaches.
"I felt like I was ready to play, so I'm really happy to get the chance."
Moeen has looked comfortable at the crease in his two warm-up appearances at number three, scoring 22 and 46, but concerns persist about whether he possesses the ball-striking ability to take apart international attacks.
With Ian Bell waiting in the wings for a recall, he will need to dispel those worries quickly, but his tidy off-spin means he may already have been earmarked for an important task with the ball.
Moeen opened the bowling against India, an experiment earlier trialled by Joe Root, and could be set to repeat it at the tournament proper.
"I think that's possible," he said.
"It's something I enjoyed doing before. I wanted to do it in the previous game but they gave it to Tredders (James Tredwell).
"I got my chance against India, got that one over, and I was pleased with it."
Despite Moeen's optimistic outlook, Ashley Giles could hardly have asked for a tougher assignment as he attempts to push his claims for the vacant position of head coach.
Captain Stuart Broad's knee injury has restricted him to only two overs since arriving in Bangladesh, at least half of his likely starting XI appear distinctly out of form and scoring quickly off spin bowling remains an unsolved conundrum.
One of those problems seems closer to being resolved than the others, with all signs that Broad will be ready to lead the side against New Zealand on Saturday and play a full part in the tournament.