Bell hundred drives England to convincing win
England 3 for 225 (Bell 124*, Trott 48) beat Prime Minister's XI 9 for 254 (Christian 53, Paine 50, Yardy 3-33, Shahzad 3-61) by 7 wickets (D/L method)
Ian Bell carried his sparkling Test form into the one-day arena with an elegant, unbeaten 102-ball 124 to guide England to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against the Prime Minister's XI at Manuka Oval. Bell's innings made light work of an adjusted target as he added 82 with Steven Davies and 98 with Jonathan Trott before the team made a hasty trip to the airport for their flight to Adelaide.
The Prime Minister's XI total was built around brisk fifties from the captain Tim Paine and Daniel Christian before a late flourish from Brett Lee. Michael Yardy was the pick of England's bowlers with 3 for 33, but while the visitors had rested their frontline quicks after the Test series they played a strong batting line-up and even needing more than a run-a-ball didn't stretch them.
Bell hasn't been part of England's Twenty20 set-up since 2008, but in his current form could push Michael Lumb for an opening berth against Australia in the absence of Craig Kieswetter. He is also trying to ensure he retains his place in the 50-over line-up with competition for places in England's top order. Bell reached his hundred from 89 balls with ten boundaries and cleared the ropes with a straight drive as victory approached.
However, as good as he was, he was fed some filth by the PM XI's attack. Trent Copeland and James Pattinson, two young bowlers tipped for Test honours, struggled to tie the batsmen down while Christian, bought for US$900,000 at the IPL auction, was taken for ten-an-over. The fielding was also poor with Davies offered two lives during his 23 - on 2 and 20 - and Bell was put down at midwicket on 71 by Callum Ferguson.
England scored at more than seven-an-over early in the chase as Copeland repeatedly dropped short and Lee also failed to make an impression despite showing decent pace. Xavier Doherty eventually broke the opening stand when Davies drove to cover but the early charge had put England well ahead of the rate when rain arrived to cut the chase from 44 to 35 overs. It made things a little tougher, at least on paper, but Bell was in serene touch and did as he pleased.
Trott, who could be in a straight fight with Bell for a one-day berth, was equally comfortable as he switch from Test to one-day mode. Shortly after the rain break he collected consecutive boundaries off Pattinson to get his innings going. Christian bowled consecutive no-balls as the PM XI's showed poor discipline. Doherty had Trott caught behind and Kevin Pietersen (13) missed a straight ball from Lee with four, but they were minor blips.
The PM XI's innings was a mixed affair with some attractive strokeplay but England managed to pull them back after a swift opening stand following a delayed start. Having playing little cricket in recent weeks, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Woakes were rusty with the new ball as Paine and Usman Khawaja (22) added 75 with Paine taking 14 off one Woakes over.
Spin was introduced for the 11th over in the shape of James Tredwell and he provided the breakthrough in his second over when he held a sharp caught-and-bowled from a thumping Khawaja drive. Paine went to a 55-ball half century but fell three balls later when he played back to Yardy's left-arm darts and was lbw.
Yardy proved especially difficult to score off as he went for just eight in his first four overs and collected a second wicket when Alex Keath, the Victoria batsman who turned down an AFL contract in favour of cricket, was also trapped on the back foot. The innings was steadied as Ferguson and Christian added 59 for the fourth, but a short shower interrupted their momentum and on the resumption Ferguson lost his leg stump when he backed away against Shahzad.
Yardy then claimed his third when Tom Thornton, an ACT batsman, popped a regulation leading edge back to the bowler and Woakes took his first wicket in England colours courtesy of a fine catch at midwicket by Paul Collingwood to remove Sam Miller. Christian went to a 51-ball half-century with a thumping straight drive off Shahzad but couldn't remain to finish off the innings when he tried a scoop over short fine-leg and was taken by Pietersen.
Lee and Doherty added 35 to give the innings a late boost, but with a view to gaining some meaningful practice ahead of the one-day matches England probably didn't mind a tougher run chase and they made it look so easy.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo