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  • England v West Indies, 1st ODI, West End

Bell's comeback ton sets up England victory

The Report by Andrew McGlashan
June 16, 2012
England 288 for 6 (Bell 126) beat West Indies 172 (Smith 56, Bresnan 4-34) by 114 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Ian Bell's first boundary was a straight six off Andre Russell © Getty Images
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Ian Bell won the battle of the replacement openers in the first one-day international as he marked his return to England's 50-over side with his second ODI hundred - nearly five years after his previous one - to earn the home side an early series advantage with a 114-run victory. Initially West Indies threatened in the chase with Dwayne Smith filling the void left by Chris Gayle's late injury but England's quicks burst through either side of a rain delay.

In some neat symmetry this was the same ground (albeit with a different name) where Bell made his only other ODI hundred - against India in 2007 - and this time he reached three figures from a lively 95 balls to suggest that the hole left by Kevin Pietersen's retirement will not be as vast as some had envisaged. There was barely a false shot in the innings until he top-edged a slower ball from Dwayne Bravo when level with his career best score having played gracefully to show, yet again, that one-day cricket is not all about brute force.

The opening partnership did not flourish with Alastair Cook caught behind third ball against Ravi Rampaul but Bell ensured that the team's recent run of ODI hundreds continued; this was the fifth match in a row that one of the openers had reached three figures after the back-to-back efforts of Cook and Pietersen against Pakistan in the UAE.

England's final total of 288 for 6 was less than they may have hoped for after 30 overs when they were 163 for 3, but was still the second highest score batting first at this venue - and England's highest - after Craig Kieswetter produced some late boundaries along with Stuart Broad in a useful 43-run stand off 34 balls.

After the early loss of Lendl Simmons, Smith's innings included three boundaries in four deliveries against Steven Finn, the second of which was a pick-up over deep square-leg, and went past fifty off 38 balls. Longevity, though, has never been Smith's strength and and aiming another shot through the leg side got an edge off Bresnan. In one sense he had done his job, but it was also a missed opportunity to build a long innings. Bresnan struck again in his next over when he won an lbw against Denesh Ramdin - batting at No. 3 after Darren Bravo picked up a groin injury in the field - after the wicketkeeper had lurched to 22.

West Indies continued to play their shots with both Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo collecting early boundaries but as rain started to fall Finn struck in the first over of his second spell by squaring up Bravo with a full delivery. In that one moment West Indies went from being ahead of the D/L par score to being behind it. The margin became even greater when Eoin Morgan plucked out Kieran Pollard's fierce cut at backward point. When Samuels clipped James Anderson to midwicket shortly after an hour's delay for rain, West Indies' last hope had gone.

The foundation of England's total was laid by a second-wicket stand of 108 between Bell and Jonathan Trott, Warwickshire team-mates who used their understanding well to run hard between the wickets against some lacklustre West Indian fielding. The boundaries had been pushed right to the edge of the playing area in anticipation of West Indies' power-packed batting order.

After the early loss of Cook, Bell gave England momentum when he took 18 off Andre Russell's third over which began with a sublime straight six and continued with three further boundaries around the ground. Pietersen, who tweeted support to his former team-mates during the day, could not have done it any better.

Bell had a nervous moment on 23 when Rampaul was convinced he had found the outside edge but umpire Richard Kettleborough said not out. Hot Spot did not show anything on replay although Snicko suggested at a thin edge. Two balls later Bell responded with a rasping square cut as Rampaul dropped short and wide.

Bell's timing and placement was effortless, but the going was tougher for Trott who had collected an early boundary through midwicket but had to wait until the 16th over for his second when Bravo drifted into the pads. As in the final Test, Sunil Narine did not overly trouble the top order - at one stage being reverse swept by Trott - but did break the partnership when Trott was caught behind cutting.

It was spin (or rather slow bowling) that continued to keep West Indies in touch when Ravi Bopara edged a cut against Samuels to end his first international innings of the season following injury. Samuels also claimed the important wicket of Morgan who chopped into his stumps after a promising start to his innings and a stand of 51 in eight overs with Bell. After a debilitating winter in all formats and an IPL spent warming the bench Morgan looked in decent form and with a far less pronounced squat at the crease than on his previous appearance. After the success of Bell, significant runs for Bopara and Morgan are the next boxes England will be looking to tick.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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