Bangladesh v England, 2nd Test, Dhaka, 3rd day March 22, 2010

Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan earn England narrow lead

England 440 for 8 (Bresnan 74*, Tredwell 0*, Shakib Al Hasan 4-99) lead Bangladesh 419 (Tamim Iqbal 85, Swann 4-114) by 21 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Ian Bell's classy 138 wrestled England a narrow advantage in the second Test after Bangladesh's hopes were deflated by poor umpiring decisions and gritty batting. Bell was supported by a fluent 62 from Matt Prior and a battling 76 from Tim Bresnan who batted through the final two sessions to remain unbeaten at the close.

What ended a lacklustre day started with real tension when Jonathan Trott was dismissed in the third over. His torturous effort last night heaped pressure on his batting partners but he was unlucky to be out to a ball that trickled back off his forearm on to off stump. It was an important strike and left England teetering on the brink of embarrassment until Bell revived their hopes.

Watchful but untroubled throughout he has transformed his reputation as a soft-centred scorer of easy runs to one of England's steeliest batsmen this winter. His 10th Test hundred is the first time he has passed three figures without a team-mate doing the same before him in the innings and is a mark of how far he has come since being dropped after England's 54-all-out calamity in Jamaica last year. Dripping with talent he feathered the ball around the ground at will, reaching three figures in typically deft style, gliding Rubel Hossain for four behind point.

Bell's average against Bangladesh continues to be stratospheric, although plummeted to a mere 244 when he was finally dismissed for 138. Unlike his runs in the first Test this innings was crucial, guiding England out of trouble and setting up a chance of victory. It's the style of knock that makes him appear like a natural No. 3, a hole the selectors have longingly looked at Bell to fill, but given his success down the order they will be reluctant to tamper.

It could have all been different for Bangladesh had they not been denied three decisions at crucial moments. With Shakib Al Hassan asphyxiating England at one end and Rubel finding incisive reverse-swing at the other, Prior was on 7 when Rubel snaked one into his pads and trapped him bang in front. However, Tony Hill thought otherwise and Prior made it count.

After struggling for runs early on the second new ball broke the shackles and Prior went on to share an enterprising 98-run stand with Bell. Shakib, much like his opposite number, has made some curious decisions through the series. He virtually ignored his two offspinners, Naeem Islam and Mahmudullah, instead stubbornly sticking to Abdul Razzak's innocuous left-arm spin. Razzak was poor on the second day but was again given the new ball. He repeatedly erred in length and line and allowed Prior to canter his way to an 83-ball fifty.

It was only a rash swipe from Prior, looking for a third boundary in an over over off Shakib, that allowed Bangladesh a glimpse at a first-innings lead as they saw Bresnan wondering out at No. 7 ahead of Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad with the deficit still 147. Bresnan should have departed on 5 when Shakib found an inside edge that popped up off the pad to silly point, yet once more the decision was turned down and the home side never really recovered.

Across the two Tests and the earlier one-day series Bangladesh have endured the worst of the decisions. It's difficult for a side used to losing to see opportunities denied and it was no surprise when, seeing the chance of a rare win disappearing, Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, grow increasingly agitated. Firstly he charged into the umpires' room and later, when an lbw appeal against Bell was turned out, he was seen gesticulating at the boundary edge. It was the kind of passion that David Lloyd used to show in his time as England coach and Siddons' frustration was understandable.

Bangladesh really flagged as the day wore on, revealing their inexperience as the fielding descended into farce at times and the intent all but disappearing. Bresnan picked off the runs that were available on a pitch designed for utter tedium. He'll make harder Test runs but a maiden fifty, coming at a time England needed them will be a useful nudge to the selectors when Ashes fever heats up later in the year.

Bangladesh showed more heart in the final session with Rubel, in particular, running in hard in unforgiving conditions. England once again favoured caution over adventure, working the ball around and being content to drift along without showing the flair needed to be ruthless. Shakib toiled all day, recalling yesteryear with 27 maidens, and was rewarded when Bell skied a slog-sweep to midwicket.

Shortly before the close, Bangladesh finally had some luck when Bresnan drilled a drive back at Shakib, who deflected it onto the stumps to run out Graeme Swann at the non-striker's end and Broad was out lbw to the underused Mahmudullah. Bresnan ended 26 short of a maiden hundred and England will need to extend their narrow to give themselves before trying to extract Bangladesh for a second time on this very docile surface and, once again, there will be a huge onus on Swann.

Sahil Dutta is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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