England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day July 31, 2011

Bell at his best leaves India gasping

While England displayed all the traits of a world-beating outfit at Trent Bridge, Ian Bell played what was arguably his best innings at the highest level, the run-out controversy notwithstanding
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If England go on and secure the world No. 1 ranking, which is now looking increasingly likely, this could be the day where the baton was handed over. There are moments when a team just looks at the top of their game. The final day at Lord's was one and this time, controversy aside, it was the England batsmen - some out of position - who played with the aggression, flair and confidence that is the hallmark of the best.

Leading it all was Ian Bell. Moved back up to No. 3 due to Jonathan Trott's shoulder injury he responded with his most commanding Test century and first in that position. It felt like the coming of age for someone who has always had the technical game for Test cricket but question-marks hanging over his mental ability.

In truth those questions have been answered emphatically over the last 18 months where, firstly at No. 6 then at No. 5 following Paul Collingwood's retirement, he has become England's middle-order banker. He has given the batting line-up solidity and style. So to say this hundred was career-defining does a disservice to some of his other innings in recent times.

"I'd really not thought about it being a hundred at No. 3 until I'd come off having just moved up through injury," he said. "It was nice to score a hundred in this situation regardless of whether it's three or five, under a bit of pressure with us wanting to get back into the game and it's right up there with hundreds I've scored."

Bell often singles out the match-saving 78 he made in Cape Town in early 2010, against Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, as the moment he knew he had cracked the Test game. That followed a fine century in the previous Test in Durban when his place had been on the line following a string of failed promises with the bat. He has shown, like many others in this team, that a bit of well-placed belief from the management can go a long way.

Yet, this innings did feel different. It was the most dominant display in a game where runs have been at a premium. Rahul Dravid's hundred was a supreme effort, but he had to graft for long periods; VVS Laxman shone but was cut short after fifty and Yuvraj Singh sparkled but wasn't convincing against pace. Bell's was a complete Test innings.

He hit his stride early and never looked back. A mark of how well he played was that at the start of the day the suggestion was that Bell would have to make 'ugly' runs and the innings would test someone known for his elegant batting. However, Bell didn't even need to get ugly. The pitch was easier, but it was still one where the bowlers should have had an edge. The way Praveen Kumar made one bounce from a good length, for the second time in the match, to remove Jonathan Trott showed that.

It makes it a greater shame, therefore, that the innings will always come with a footnote about his run-out-turned-reinstatement at tea. Bell admitted he was "naïve" in how he put himself into the situation, but hoped it won't be why people talk about his innings in years to come. Considering he had 137 when the controversy erupted it isn't an unreasonable thought.

"I've got to take some blame, it was a bit stupid," he said. "But no doubt, I think it was one of the best innings I've played. I really admire this India team, they are ranked No. 1 and have some world-class players, and it's a massive contest. It would be nice if the innings could be remembered for being a good hundred against a very good team and something that's helping us set up a Test."

He has certainly put England in a wonderful position. Today they carved 417 runs in 90 overs - research suggests it's the first time they have scored more than 400 in a day since Edgbaston 2005 - and even taking into account Harbhajan Singh's stomach injury, which left India a bowler down for the second Test running, it was a staggering way to take hold of what had until then been a nip-and-tuck contest. India's batting is good enough to still make a game of it, but there were signs that England had landed some telling psychological blows especially during the final session which yielded 187 runs.

On the first two days the impact of the respective lower-orders was highlighted for their potential significance in the Test (and series). When Trott, batting at No. 7 due to his injury, was caught at slip the lead was 272. If India could have done a similar demolition job that England, or rather Stuart Broad, managed on the second evening they could have been chasing under 320. Tough, but not impossible.

Instead they now have the prospect of something well over 400 where the previous best on the ground is 284 for 6. Matt Prior plundered an unbeaten 64 off 55 balls against a weary attack, and his impact on England is becoming more Gilchrist-esque by the innings.

"The way KP played, Morgan, and then Matt Prior and Bresnan at the end, there's so much pressure on the bowlers," Bell said. "When you've been in the field a long time and you see those guys coming out to play the way they did, it's tough. Prior was exceptional and is probably the worst bloke in world cricket to see walking in when you've been fielding for 90 overs."

On the opening two days England clung on by fighting back in the last session, but the strongest teams know when a match is there for the taking. Their current opponents are trying desperately to cling onto their No. 1 tag but the challengers are looking primed to make their move.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • voma on August 1, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Hes definetly the best stroke player in the side , and the speed in which he reached his century was amazing . Especially because at that moment Indias bowlers were on top , and to be fair to the india quicks they have contributed more than there batsmen have . Ian Bell has it in him now to power on to greatness

  • on August 1, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    It is rank bad sportsmanship on England's part to select 11 players that are not old, fat or useless.

  • hawkeye30 on August 1, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    While India is struggling in England they have slipped to third position in the ODI icc rankings and Sri Lanka has overtaken India to secure 2nd position.

  • Lord.emsworth on August 1, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    Dhoni did a wonderful thing and at the end fates played out some sort of balance to the whole affair as Bell who played his best knock ever couldnt add mutch more than 20 odd runs. Someone ought to send an SMS to Brendon McCullum and ask him to kindly reverse poor Murali's run out when the wizard walked out of his crease to congragulate his captain Sangakarra who had made a century at the other end. And while we are at it why not reverse all other such incidents and decide those matches on a Duckworth / Lewis 'Dhoni' rev ?

  • crictime11 on August 1, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    in this match... im rooting for ENGLAAAAAND

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 1, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    Very well played Bell. What a knock with complete domination. If Dravid's century was a masterclass in grafting and dominating at the opportune moment with utmost technical superiority, then this century is a masterclass in dominating with supremely correct technique right from the word go. Remember, I took his name in one of my posts along with Kallis, Hanif and Dravid? I'm glad he made it to three figures under pressure. What a knock! Supreme! Test cricket needs players like Bell. I hope he improves his overall record and record against some opponents. He deserves a much better record than what he has now. Good luck to both the teams and thanks a million for this wonderful cricket.

  • Rajul_Tandon on August 1, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    Really good to read that Straussy and Flower came begging to the Indian camp for a reversal of a decision...pretty immature act by Bell and Strauss....I am really surprised that even after all those vaseline and jelly bean incidents the english camp still had guts to request India for a reversal.... After this begging incidence in caps I would say that "ENGLAND DESERVES NO 1 SPOT IN TEST CRICKET" HA HA HA....

  • stormy16 on August 1, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    Bell really is a pleasure to watch and surely must be in the one day team for Eng with Prior- I cant understand how Trott and Cook play ahead of Bell. I recall Bell's debut against Warne in those dark days and what a player he has turned out be in recent times. Sure his knock was critical yesteraday but what about Prior! All the good work from the top order would have meant little unless Prior was able to hold things togeather to get lead over 300 and now probably well over 400. These two guys really do add some serious muscle to the already impressive top order and with the Indian batting being found wanted, is surely the best batting line up in the world.

  • anver777 on August 1, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Well played !!! nice time to bring his 1st century as no.3......Eng is in commanding position in this test & a target of over 400 in the last innings is a very tough ask for Ind !!!!!

  • scritty on August 1, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Friday we were told "Bowlers are undercooked" last night we are told "they are all tired from West Indies" @raunakwakode81185... If you think 22 runs (scored a lot slower than the batsmen who followed Bell) is going to change the series you are deluded. India will lose because England are a far better side..it's as simple as that.

  • voma on August 1, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    Hes definetly the best stroke player in the side , and the speed in which he reached his century was amazing . Especially because at that moment Indias bowlers were on top , and to be fair to the india quicks they have contributed more than there batsmen have . Ian Bell has it in him now to power on to greatness

  • on August 1, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    It is rank bad sportsmanship on England's part to select 11 players that are not old, fat or useless.

  • hawkeye30 on August 1, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    While India is struggling in England they have slipped to third position in the ODI icc rankings and Sri Lanka has overtaken India to secure 2nd position.

  • Lord.emsworth on August 1, 2011, 14:00 GMT

    Dhoni did a wonderful thing and at the end fates played out some sort of balance to the whole affair as Bell who played his best knock ever couldnt add mutch more than 20 odd runs. Someone ought to send an SMS to Brendon McCullum and ask him to kindly reverse poor Murali's run out when the wizard walked out of his crease to congragulate his captain Sangakarra who had made a century at the other end. And while we are at it why not reverse all other such incidents and decide those matches on a Duckworth / Lewis 'Dhoni' rev ?

  • crictime11 on August 1, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    in this match... im rooting for ENGLAAAAAND

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 1, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    Very well played Bell. What a knock with complete domination. If Dravid's century was a masterclass in grafting and dominating at the opportune moment with utmost technical superiority, then this century is a masterclass in dominating with supremely correct technique right from the word go. Remember, I took his name in one of my posts along with Kallis, Hanif and Dravid? I'm glad he made it to three figures under pressure. What a knock! Supreme! Test cricket needs players like Bell. I hope he improves his overall record and record against some opponents. He deserves a much better record than what he has now. Good luck to both the teams and thanks a million for this wonderful cricket.

  • Rajul_Tandon on August 1, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    Really good to read that Straussy and Flower came begging to the Indian camp for a reversal of a decision...pretty immature act by Bell and Strauss....I am really surprised that even after all those vaseline and jelly bean incidents the english camp still had guts to request India for a reversal.... After this begging incidence in caps I would say that "ENGLAND DESERVES NO 1 SPOT IN TEST CRICKET" HA HA HA....

  • stormy16 on August 1, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    Bell really is a pleasure to watch and surely must be in the one day team for Eng with Prior- I cant understand how Trott and Cook play ahead of Bell. I recall Bell's debut against Warne in those dark days and what a player he has turned out be in recent times. Sure his knock was critical yesteraday but what about Prior! All the good work from the top order would have meant little unless Prior was able to hold things togeather to get lead over 300 and now probably well over 400. These two guys really do add some serious muscle to the already impressive top order and with the Indian batting being found wanted, is surely the best batting line up in the world.

  • anver777 on August 1, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Well played !!! nice time to bring his 1st century as no.3......Eng is in commanding position in this test & a target of over 400 in the last innings is a very tough ask for Ind !!!!!

  • scritty on August 1, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    Friday we were told "Bowlers are undercooked" last night we are told "they are all tired from West Indies" @raunakwakode81185... If you think 22 runs (scored a lot slower than the batsmen who followed Bell) is going to change the series you are deluded. India will lose because England are a far better side..it's as simple as that.

  • on August 1, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    As one of the comments said about Sachin and Yuvraj taking on the challenge of India saving or winning the match - yeah, it might happen though odds are heavily stacked against it already and more so when England complete their innings. Sachin might decide that it is enough and go after Brian Lara's record with Dhoni shaking off his poor form. Go Sachin!

  • NairUSA on August 1, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    Looks like team India was not fully fit mentally or physically to take on the England tour. It is unfortunate that the Indian batsmen and bowlers are not being able to make an impression. Is this because of too much IPL, bad conditioning or even change of coach? Or is it that England has taken up their game to the next level? Looks like they just took a swipe of 'magic potion'. Only time will tell.

  • Sashank_sharma on August 1, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    Its time for sachin and Dhoni to perform. If Dhoni gets going , which he does only once in 20 innings, we can give a fight because others will any way play their game

  • Sashank_sharma on August 1, 2011, 9:16 GMT

    Matt Prior and broad are irking me..... Where the hell has gone India's fighting ability?? Great positive cricket from England. Hopefully Harbhajan doesn't play next match

  • Hammond on August 1, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    Wow the excuses have already started. I predicted it would be the new coach, the weather (which has been good), the ball and the conditions. Sad that England haven't faced the full strength Indian side because we would have thrashed them around too and then no Indian supporter would be able to make any excuse. But anyway, after the old men have retired Indians will just say their team is not performing because the great players have retired. Sounds like Australia all over again. Get ready for 5th or 6th place in the ICC rankings India.

  • tjsimonsen on August 1, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    @raunakwakode81185: If India loose this match, it will not be because of that incident. But because they were totally outplayed by England ALL DAY. Just imagine what the situation could have been if Prior had had MORE time to punish the bowling....

  • prasad80 on August 1, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    seems indian team is for holiday...there eyes dont show any passion to be number 1 , any more.....i think 4-0 white wash is in store....

  • CRICSL on August 1, 2011, 8:36 GMT

    @khiladisher- What more lame excesses you have mate??? Eng playing back to back series and most of their players played country matches right after the SL series. Most of IND seniors were rested after the WC and didn't play WI series then who are tired mate?? When you play for your country you need to be the 01 contender if not then game over. The real fact is your team IND is too aged and too much depending on them and afraid to bring on youngsters fearing to lose 01 spot. Beside that the bowling attack is the most ordinary. Only Dravid deserves credit for playing good cricket and don't keep too much hopes on Shewag as his way records are too poor…

  • on August 1, 2011, 8:36 GMT

    @raunakwakode81185: the damage has been done well before the tea. Bell's incident has nothing to do with the out come of this match. England has thoroughly dominated the 3rd test

  • bumsonseats on August 1, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    the reason england a playing better than india,has nothing to do with their new coach they have. the bbci decided the format of games they would play to the run up to the tests, which given the number of players coming into the series cold was poor thinking. they won both tosses which gave should have given them a considerable advantage. england r at the top of their game. im not that fussed if e dont get to # 1 as long as we beat the number 1. dpk

  • Yevghenny on August 1, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    It's about time there has been an article on Bell's great innings. Thoroughly fed up of listening to people talk about the run out and nothing else since it happened, because let's be honest even if you think Bell should have been out (which I would agree with), by then he had taken India apart, making the lives of Morgan, Prior and even Bresnan much easier. The start of the day, things could have gone either way, but Bell scored at a fast rate, and the milestones had come and gone within a blink of an eye - scores level, 50 ahead, 100+ etc. It's a long way back for India now, and not just this test match

  • satanswish on August 1, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Will this test end on 4th day or India will stretch their defeat upto final day?

  • on August 1, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    Bounce Back Ability... What is next excuse

  • on August 1, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    @raunakwakode81185: The 1 billion Indians would rather accept this than retaining the crown in a non spirited way.

  • rahulcricindia on August 1, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    well england team may become no.1 after this series but for the time being as in some time they have to come to india for the test later this year...and they better be prepared for our conditions and pitches otherwise this ranking may quickly go other way round...that that will be more embarrassing for england for holding it for just few months...that is why i always fell to be complete no1 team in the world you have to beat each country in their home turf..if india is not undisputed no.1 team of the world england to does not deserve this title until and unless they beat us in our home turf..in few months time..enjoy till then!!!!!!

  • rahulcricindia on August 1, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    India was badly criticized for not using the technology...Nasser was saying if there is technology why not use it...now England is himself criticizing this technology...now tell me who is right bcci or ecb...that guy Vaughan dared to suspect vvs integrity...gosh how dare he!!!...and broad has the audacity to checked vvs bat...has ICC appointed him as the bat inspector.....that is ridiculous...that is the most unfortunate tour of England by us not because of result but due to ongoing disgraceful incidents on our players....its a pity on England!!!

  • shanx24 on August 1, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    @Raunak, get over it. Bell only scored 30 or so runs after that. The problem with the Indian team runs much deeper. They can't bowl out 20 wickets, and their batsmen, with the exception of Dravid, are at their wit's end. England deserves to win this 3-0 at the rate things are going.

  • rahulcricindia on August 1, 2011, 7:33 GMT

    well England team may become no.1 after this series but for the time being as in some time they have to come to India for the test later this year...and they better be prepared for our conditions and pitches otherwise this ranking may quickly go other way round...that that will be more embarrassing for England for holding it for just few months...that is why i always fell to be complete no1 team in the world you have to beat each country in their home turf..if India is not undisputed no.1 team of the world England to does not deserve this title until and unless they beat us in our home turf..in few months time..enjoy till then!!!!!!

  • raunakwakode81185 on August 1, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    WELL WELL WELL!! Its seems that Dhoni has now become Hero Of Sportsmanship Spirit for the EPIC Decision for lets say 30,000 people present in the Stadium or all British team supporters. BUT what about the Angry, Hurted and Disappointed 100,00,00,00,000 INDIAN people if INDIAN CRICKET TEAM lose the series because of this so called IN THE SPIRIT decision.

  • randika_ayya on August 1, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    Nicely set up for England thanks to the onslaught by England batters. Strauss and Cook however will need to step upto plate int he next game at the very least. Atleast a half century between them would be nice. India may relinquish their Top rank following the next two days given current position. But I'd back them to win atleast 1 of the remaining tests on tour!

  • on August 1, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    nothing more, just one question, ~Where is India's bounce back Ability....huh,,, Please answer me

  • Jaggadaaku on August 1, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    So-called best batsmen of India showed how they have prepared for this big series. They all haven't played any cricket after the world cup. And they all won the world cup, so they all were flying thinking they just whitewashed Australia, so England are nothing. But they forgot England also defeated the Australians in recent Ashes by 3-1. MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, and A Mukund contributed 49, 61, and 62 respectively in 3 innings. MS Dhoni already forgot how to bat long time ago. But until the world cup, the India team was winning the matches one way or another. That is the only reason, MS Dhoni is still in Indian team. Otherwise his batting performance is so poor and even bowlers make more runs than him these days. Harbhajan rarely gets wickets these days. His bowling averages keep increasing match by match. His current bowling average is 32.22 and keeps going up and up. But they all are keep laughing and jocking on the ground and off the ground. They seem like they don't care.

  • Jaggadaaku on August 1, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    So-called best batsmen of India showed how they have prepared for this big series. They all haven't played any cricket after the world cup. And they all won the world cup, so they all were flying thinking they just whitewashed Australia, so England are nothing. But they forgot England also defeated the Australians in recent Ashes by 3-1. MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, and A Mukund contributed 49, 61, and 62 respectively in 3 innings. MS Dhoni already forgot how to bat long time ago. But until the world cup, the India team was winning the matches one way or another. That is the only reason, MS Dhoni is still in Indian team. Otherwise his batting performance is so poor and even bowlers make more runs than him these days. Harbhajan rarely gets wickets these days. His bowling averages keep increasing match by match. His current bowling average is 32.22 and keeps going up and up. But they all are keep laughing and jocking on the ground and off the ground. They seem like they don't care.

  • JustOUT on August 1, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Bell has improved alot in his batting. The best i have seen him is in Captetown 2009 negotiating Styen & Co. Way to go.. RINGGGGGG

  • Ravi_IN on August 1, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    This is what happens when we have a coach like Duncan Fletcher..!!India are again going back 10 years form. This series will be lost hopelessly..!!

  • tjsimonsen on August 1, 2011, 6:00 GMT

    Hopefully, hopefully the tea incident won't thake the focus away from an absolute glorious innings from Bell, as well as some incredible dominating batting from England. It was certainly refreshing to hear Dravid explaining the Indian's take on the incident after play; it sounded as of they more or less had made the decision to recall Bell BEFORE they were approached by the Andies. I have always had immense respect for Dravid, but my respect for Dhoni has gone up by an order of magnitude.

  • sivasagar49 on August 1, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    well if sachin can take the role of sehwag playing some quick runs like England did India can achieve the target of aroung 450 with one day and two sessions. Remember the way Yuvraj played in the first innings. Still anything can happen

  • strategic_blunder on August 1, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    Btw, another stat for those who are saying it was a mere 20 odd extra runs Bell scored after the recall. The score was 251/3 in the 66th over when Bell got 'run-out' and was 323/4 in the over 77 when he was 'caught-out'......................For simpletons, thats 72 extra runs in 11 overs @ 6.54 runs per over.....This single-handedly had a detrimental effect on the final scoreline as the lead at the 'run-out' stage was only 187 with the new ball due 14-15 overs and judging from Eoin Morgan's prior form, he wudnt have been able to score as quickly under the pressure of saving a match.

  • Suri_1982 on August 1, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    India is nothing but reaping what is has sowed by keeping a very very tight scedule for the players and for Sachin I think he should not be allowed to take rest whenever he wants coz I thnk it takes some time for him to come back to prime. India bowling was the one among the worst these days. I dont think they are going to even Draw this game. Well Deserved Victory for England. Hope Indian team management will wake up and cut the unwanted guys in the team.(In the likes of Harbhajan singh ETC)

  • on August 1, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    Anybody else missing Gary Kristen's coaching/decisions?

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 1, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    I've forgotten the run out already. This was one of the classiest hundreds I have seen ever and certainly the classiest I have seen this year 2011.

  • on August 1, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    i would like india to get rid of extra baggage in the form of dhoni and harbhajan singh, the so called captain cool and turbonator, cut the ipl down to size and concentrate on test matches. unfortunately for this to happen a shocking result would be needed like a whitewash from england including an innings victory, go england go for the future of test cricket you have to flatten india up

  • gzawilliam on August 1, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    Harbijan has a stomach injury now does he? So yet another excuse India will have when they give up the number 1 spot. Ohh but we missed sehwag.. Ohh but we had Zaheer get injured (because the stupid dhoni kept bowling him even though he was tired dur to poor game prep) ohh and we lost gambhir and now harbijan.. boo hoo. India may lose this test series because of poor fitness and lack of management skills. But that doesn't mean england flogging you is going to matter less.

    India have been shown what they truly are.. Unfit talented yet childish number 2 in the world..

  • antondsilva on August 1, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    Where is Varun Aaron. I guess he will get a chance to play for India wehn he is 27 or 28 when he has finally lost his steam and is just another medium pacer relying on swing and cunning to take wickets. Sad he is not playing as Dhoni is from the same state and knows all about this bowler

  • on August 1, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    Dhoni should show confidence in other spinners like ashwin and mishra. Poor shot selection and not leaving balls outside off stump by some of the indian batsman have to be corrected.

  • passion4indiancric on August 1, 2011, 3:00 GMT

    Bell's was a complete Test innings - against a bowling attack lacking teeth, YES, it was definitely Complete

  • gitapat on August 1, 2011, 2:43 GMT

    After watching Dhoni and Harbhajan in the West Indies Series and the two tests in the current England series I would like to repeat the famous words mentioned in the British Parliament on two occasions. "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

  • 9ST9 on August 1, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    It's time India learnt reality, they never quite reached what they thought they were, they were on their way to obtain greatness, but rejoiced too early and it's time to wake up now.

  • Gupta.Ankur on August 1, 2011, 2:26 GMT

    If Indian batsmen ever had got to face their own bowlers in this series, i am sure harbhajan would not have batted even once in 3 innings now and i am sure the world would have seen not only the 100th 100, but also the 101st.

  • allblue on August 1, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    I wonder what Duncan Fletcher was thinking in that last hour. He's a man who understands the value of lower order runs, so much so a half-fit Ashley Giles was wheeled out in Australia on the hope of his 20-odd runs at no.8. When Trott was out today, England were still in sight, a tough but gettable 300 to chase still a possibility. By stumps, grimly hanging on for five sessions is the best India can hope for. Fletcher must think back to the NZ Test at the Oval in 1999 when he picked this lower order: 7. Irani (Ave. 17.20) 8. Caddick (10.37) 9. Mullally (5.52) 10. Giddins (2.50) 11. Tufnell (5.10), then look at the current England team: 7. Prior (Ave 45.40) 8. Bresnan (32.80) 9. Broad (27.88) 10. Swann (24.03) 11. Anderson (11.74) then go and find a quiet corner and gently weep.

  • RaamSaran on August 1, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    Awesome display by Ian Bell. More special because he batted at No. 3 instead of his usual No. 5 and also came in when Cook was out early (6/1). Bell stamped his authority and did exactly what the Indian middle order should have done on day 2. Apart from a short time after tea when India took 3 wickets and showed true cricket spirit right after tea by getting Bell back, it was truly England's day. Everest like assignment for India to win the game and with a draw ruled out, could very well be England 2, India 0. Amazing test series so far. Well played England.

  • JustOUT on August 1, 2011, 1:43 GMT

    Wel. A true test for so called No.1 team. If they are really No.1, whatever is the score, they should go for a WIN. No doubts on Dravid and Laxman. Lets see how Mr. Sachin responds. Now the pitch has become easy to bat on, lets see atleast the batters stick around for a draw.. Take a leaf from Smith, Amla and McKenzie in lords against Eng in 2008.

  • JustOUT on August 1, 2011, 1:37 GMT

    Well to all indian fans, dont claim just b'coz Bell allowed to play again India has lost the plot. Bell has already set the platform before Tea. So, come out with other silly reasons.. like bhajji got injured.. LOL. Even if he is not injured nothing would hv happened. Now its a great challenge for this No.1 team to prove their mettle not going for Draw. Waiting for 2 more days to go. WOW. Test match at its best.

  • strategic_blunder on August 1, 2011, 1:00 GMT

    Dhoni chooses grace over gamesmanship, but over loss of a match and possible series (and the trivial spot in the rankings). I disagree completely that it would have been against the spirit of the game if Dhoni would have refused Bell's appeal reconsideration. On the contrary, it would have provided spark to the sagging Indian team and consequently the series more meaning....1) Lets look at the decision making process of Dhoni for the reversal. As I mentioned, it wasnt for the spirit of the game but more so an altruistic act for English decision to play in India despite the Mumbai terror attacks. Muddled logic I'd say, as those circumstances were beyond either team, this whereas was due to an individual's lack of judgement....2) The last time when the Spirit was in question in Sydney, it was REALLY in question due to childlike decision-making from the opposite captain....3) The absymal bowling was due to the psychological disadvantage, things wouldve been different otherwise.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 1, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    Very well played Bell. What a priceless knock with complete domination. If Dravid's century was a masterclass in grafting and dominating at the opportune moment with utmost technical superiority, then this century is a masterclass in dominating right from the word go with supremely correct technique and elegance that is out of this world. Remember, I took his name yesterday in one of my posts along with Kallis, Hanif and Dravid? I'm glad he made it to three figures under pressure. What a knock! Supreme! Test cricket needs players like Bell. I hope he improves his overall record and record against some opponents. He deserves a much better record than what he has now. This would be one of the greatest ever wins for India if they succeed. Good luck to both the teams and thanks a million for this wonderful cricket.

  • The_Rohit on August 1, 2011, 0:14 GMT

    It does look like England will take the #1 ranking over from India by the end of this test match barring a miracle. Though it must not be ignored that India, for all its poor spells of bowling, has been hit hard by injuries to their main bowlers. And they have gone into this test match with an equivalent of Strauss and Cook missing. England owe a lot of their rise to a stable opening pair. So does India. In case of India it is even more with Sehwag, the most destructive test batsman around, missing out. And it is also fortunate for England that this opportunity to take over the #1 rank came for them in a home series. Imagine a similar situation with England coming to India with Cook, Strauss, Anderson, Swann injured. This same Indian team will most likely win the series comfortably. Not providing excuses, but just an objective analysis of the factors, beyond ability, influencing the performances of the 2 teams and the possible outcome of this series.

  • spinkingKK on July 31, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    I just don't see the logic behind Dhoni's snubbing of Sreesanth in the entire match. In the first innings, he took a wicket with a peach of a delivery and the next over, he was replaced. Even if he had done a long enough spell by then, any other captains in the world would have given one more over to Sreesanth in such a form and the history suggests that he got the ability to destroy some of the best batting line-ups in the world. Also, there was nothing to suggest that he was tiring at that stage anyway. I thought, he will put the team's interest at first at least in the second innings. But, no. When I started watching the match, England had 7 runs lead and Sreesanth was the only wicket taker in the morning. However, I didn't see Sreesanth bowling until 45 minutes after lunch break. By then KP and Bell had a century partnership and the match was already gone. I can't support this Indian team with a captain with this kind of prejudice anymore. GO ENGLAND. JUST FINISH THEM OFF.

  • 5wombats on July 31, 2011, 23:18 GMT

    Well - you heard it here first. I said on here last night that I fancied Bell in this situation. He has proved me right. What a BLISTERING innings! Someone had to dig deep. Absolutely brilliant. England pretty much out of sight now. And Prior is still in. He won't hang around - can see him getting a ton too. Broad and Swann to come; it'll be a slogfest. Test cricket, Test bowling, Test batting of the highest standard so far in this match. Superb.

  • on July 31, 2011, 23:11 GMT

    interesting game...we'll have a winner

  • ahweak on July 31, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    England seem to have played one gear lower against Sri Lanka. They have raised their game against India and based on the first two tests alone, England deserve to be #1. India don't deserve the #1 now. India did well for a long period and were rewarded for those performances with the #1 ranking, but that time is past. Once the greats retire, the inability of Dhoni and the bowlers to score runs will be even more glaring.

  • on July 31, 2011, 22:47 GMT

    All this talk about second string team in the WI, This indian team seems weaker than the one that was in the WI, they got England all over them, does Engloand have to declare for the third time now in jus two matches?

  • khiladisher on July 31, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    BELL PLAYED A KNOCK AGAINST TIRED BOWLERS AND IN PERFECT SUNSHINE AND THE THIRD DAY PITCH WAS THE FLATTEST PITCH IN THE WORLD-NOT SWINGING AND SEAMING WHEN THE GREAT DRAVID MADE HIS CENTURY{DRAVID MAKING HIS CENTURY AGAINST THE BEST BALLING ATTACK IN THE WORLD},SO BELL CENTURY WAS A EFFORT OF AGAINST TIRED BOWLERS. HOW WOULD ANYONE EVER COMPARE BELL TO LEGENDS LIKE SEHWAG-SACHIN-DRAVID AND LAXMAN-THE BEST BATSMANSHIP IN THIS SERIES BELONGS TO THE LEGENDS DRAVID AND VVS,NOT THE BELL.

  • Chris_P on July 31, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    A series defining and ranking change day. England are showing why they are deserving of the top ranking spot. On a pitch that has consistently been one of the hardest to score runs on, they have effectively shut India out of the match by digging deep within their resources and producing when it counts, that is when the pressure is on. Any team with aspirations to the top need to have a number of top quality players available to cover loss of form, injuries etc. that is what is needed to earn top spot. Bresnan covered for Tremlett well, and they still have high quality backups for others.

  • Trioboy on July 31, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    Great performance by Bell. Ranking no 1 is now secure with England. English batsman dominated the game.

  • IndianaJones79 on July 31, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    I can see sense of jealousy from some of the comments...These people can not see India as no 1. According to them India are overrated.it's batting line up is overrated..During Last three years, India has played in all countries...So people who says they could only play well in subcontinent, are blinded by their bias..If india didnt loose any test series and won most of them, then credit must be given for that..If England become number 1 then credit must be give to them also...But dont disrespect team which is no 1 for 3 years and challenged Australia for last 10 years when nobody could compete them...Remember how England were playing to them when Aussies were world beater? And how they played in subcontinent? I will see when England become No1 how many of these biased people will challenge their ranking,eventhough they didnt win in subcontinent

  • Guru1234 on July 31, 2011, 21:47 GMT

    India would/should WIN this.. even if target is 450.. because its a batting wicket now..provided they dont throw it away as they have done in most of the sessions so far.. India would need to go in partnerships and keep target of 10 overs.. and would reach it.. If England is so deserving to be No1.. let them run thro...

    hopefully the pitch stays the same was . then its good contest..else its not fair.. and Bhajii getting an injury.. would be good as mishra could come for next game..Ifaat all India managae a WIN or even a draw.. would be great for next test as Shewag, Zaheer and Gauti are on their way back..

  • landl47 on July 31, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    I didn't see the 'run-out' incident, but I saw Bell's first 118 runs and he batted beautifully. He was rarely caused any problems by the bowling and scored his runs at a great rate, considering the state of the game. In the last year he has put to rest a lot of the negatives; now he's made a hundred against Australia, a hundred againsrt India and a hundred at #3. If Trott doesn't play the next match, then Bell is more than ready. Credit to Pietersen, too, who played a very good, disciplined innings, just what was needed. Those two set up the game for the later batsmen. It's a very long way back for India from here.

  • xjunda on July 31, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    England is best team by far! India had so many opportunities in this match, their bowling is not even able to cope with number 9-10, they couldn't score even 300 in 3 innings.

    India looks like a tired team. They haven't got killer instinct, captaincy have been poor & approach is defensive.

    Don't even think about winning (Even with Zaher & Sehwag). Next question, will Indian be able to draw a match if weather permits 5 days play? One will doubt!!!

  • Fifthman on July 31, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    I guess we'll only really know how much (if at all) the wicket has eased out when India start their 2nd innings. But for an England fan, this is the stuff of dreams. England can realistically look to set India a 4th innings target in excess of 400 runs. When England were 124-8 in the first dig, anyone suggesting India would be chasing 400 in the 4th innings would have been regarded as insane.

    What a Test series this is turning out to be.

  • Master01 on July 31, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    You're playing against an India side without 3 world class players. It would be like England playing withut Anderson Broad and Pietersen. How well would you have done then? show some respect

  • V_KS on July 31, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    I am really disappointed with India's lack of preparation for this series! I have been looking forward to this series all year and India have turned up half baked. I was not surprised at all when Zaheer got injured. It looks like India will lose the No1 spot which I will get over, eventually. The thing that hurts the most is that Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar have been playing quality cricket for such a long time, they have given us so many memorable moments and they are not going out with a bang, but more like a whimper. I hope Dravid does well in this series, he has been India's rock from the word go and deserves every bit of praise for the fantastic work he has done over the years for India and the great sportsman that he is.

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  • V_KS on July 31, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    I am really disappointed with India's lack of preparation for this series! I have been looking forward to this series all year and India have turned up half baked. I was not surprised at all when Zaheer got injured. It looks like India will lose the No1 spot which I will get over, eventually. The thing that hurts the most is that Dravid, Laxman, Tendulkar have been playing quality cricket for such a long time, they have given us so many memorable moments and they are not going out with a bang, but more like a whimper. I hope Dravid does well in this series, he has been India's rock from the word go and deserves every bit of praise for the fantastic work he has done over the years for India and the great sportsman that he is.

  • Master01 on July 31, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    You're playing against an India side without 3 world class players. It would be like England playing withut Anderson Broad and Pietersen. How well would you have done then? show some respect

  • Fifthman on July 31, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    I guess we'll only really know how much (if at all) the wicket has eased out when India start their 2nd innings. But for an England fan, this is the stuff of dreams. England can realistically look to set India a 4th innings target in excess of 400 runs. When England were 124-8 in the first dig, anyone suggesting India would be chasing 400 in the 4th innings would have been regarded as insane.

    What a Test series this is turning out to be.

  • xjunda on July 31, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    England is best team by far! India had so many opportunities in this match, their bowling is not even able to cope with number 9-10, they couldn't score even 300 in 3 innings.

    India looks like a tired team. They haven't got killer instinct, captaincy have been poor & approach is defensive.

    Don't even think about winning (Even with Zaher & Sehwag). Next question, will Indian be able to draw a match if weather permits 5 days play? One will doubt!!!

  • landl47 on July 31, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    I didn't see the 'run-out' incident, but I saw Bell's first 118 runs and he batted beautifully. He was rarely caused any problems by the bowling and scored his runs at a great rate, considering the state of the game. In the last year he has put to rest a lot of the negatives; now he's made a hundred against Australia, a hundred againsrt India and a hundred at #3. If Trott doesn't play the next match, then Bell is more than ready. Credit to Pietersen, too, who played a very good, disciplined innings, just what was needed. Those two set up the game for the later batsmen. It's a very long way back for India from here.

  • Guru1234 on July 31, 2011, 21:47 GMT

    India would/should WIN this.. even if target is 450.. because its a batting wicket now..provided they dont throw it away as they have done in most of the sessions so far.. India would need to go in partnerships and keep target of 10 overs.. and would reach it.. If England is so deserving to be No1.. let them run thro...

    hopefully the pitch stays the same was . then its good contest..else its not fair.. and Bhajii getting an injury.. would be good as mishra could come for next game..Ifaat all India managae a WIN or even a draw.. would be great for next test as Shewag, Zaheer and Gauti are on their way back..

  • IndianaJones79 on July 31, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    I can see sense of jealousy from some of the comments...These people can not see India as no 1. According to them India are overrated.it's batting line up is overrated..During Last three years, India has played in all countries...So people who says they could only play well in subcontinent, are blinded by their bias..If india didnt loose any test series and won most of them, then credit must be given for that..If England become number 1 then credit must be give to them also...But dont disrespect team which is no 1 for 3 years and challenged Australia for last 10 years when nobody could compete them...Remember how England were playing to them when Aussies were world beater? And how they played in subcontinent? I will see when England become No1 how many of these biased people will challenge their ranking,eventhough they didnt win in subcontinent

  • Trioboy on July 31, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    Great performance by Bell. Ranking no 1 is now secure with England. English batsman dominated the game.

  • Chris_P on July 31, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    A series defining and ranking change day. England are showing why they are deserving of the top ranking spot. On a pitch that has consistently been one of the hardest to score runs on, they have effectively shut India out of the match by digging deep within their resources and producing when it counts, that is when the pressure is on. Any team with aspirations to the top need to have a number of top quality players available to cover loss of form, injuries etc. that is what is needed to earn top spot. Bresnan covered for Tremlett well, and they still have high quality backups for others.

  • khiladisher on July 31, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    BELL PLAYED A KNOCK AGAINST TIRED BOWLERS AND IN PERFECT SUNSHINE AND THE THIRD DAY PITCH WAS THE FLATTEST PITCH IN THE WORLD-NOT SWINGING AND SEAMING WHEN THE GREAT DRAVID MADE HIS CENTURY{DRAVID MAKING HIS CENTURY AGAINST THE BEST BALLING ATTACK IN THE WORLD},SO BELL CENTURY WAS A EFFORT OF AGAINST TIRED BOWLERS. HOW WOULD ANYONE EVER COMPARE BELL TO LEGENDS LIKE SEHWAG-SACHIN-DRAVID AND LAXMAN-THE BEST BATSMANSHIP IN THIS SERIES BELONGS TO THE LEGENDS DRAVID AND VVS,NOT THE BELL.