Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ageas Bowl 1st ODI: England Vs West Indies

I have to admit that I was scathing about England's decision to make Ian Bell the second half of the ODI opening combination. I felt that we had endured Bell's trait of getting slow starts before throwing his wicket away for far too long, but he proved me wrong in style today. The West Indies, with only Chris Gayle (foot injury) missing from their full-strength line-up, won the toss and put England in on a greenish pitch. Alastair Cook fell to Ravi Rampaul almost immediately but Bell soon got into his stride, hitting Andre Russell for 18 in an over, including a majestic stright-driven six. He struck a serene 126, which equalled his highest ODI score, with shots all around the ground, mixing classical stroke play with innovation. He received good support from the other batsmen, but no one else made more than Jonathan Trott's 42. England struggled to find the boundaries in the latter part of their innings, but 288-6 still represented a good total under those conditions. The WI reply got off to a flier thanks to Dwayne Smith, who hit 56 off 44 balls. Since making his international debut in January 2004, his exact role in the team has been unclear (the Luke Wright of the West Indies, if you will), but he seems to have found his niche as a top-order batsman. His innings included two glorious pulls for six, but his dismissal started a steady fall of wickets. Tim Bresnan finished with 4-34 and every other England bowler chipped in as WI folded fairly tamely for 172. A short break for rain may have juiced up the pitch and an injury to Darren Bravo meant that he batted at No. 9, but there were a few tame dismissals, Russell and Sammy in particular. Bell was deservedly made man of the match.

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