Fine finish for England as Ian Bell's ton brings alive dead rubber against India

England 227-3 (47.2 overs) beat India 226 (49.4 overs) by seven wickets

Ian Bell's pitch-perfect century guided England to a seven-wicket win against India here in Dharamsala, ensuring that the five-match series ended on the right note for the tourists. This rubber may have been dead but a pitch alive with turn, bounce and swing guaranteed the match was anything but.

Chasing 227 for victory, Bell was at the crease for the first ball of the reply, which whistled ominously past Alastair Cook's outside edge. He was still there for the last ball of the innings as he nudged England to victory with 16 balls to spare. Bell finished unbeaten on 113 from 143 balls to register his third one-day international century.

That India's total failed to live up to the majesty of the Himalayan surroundings was down to the mountainous efforts of England's bowlers, rather than dead rubber-induced lack of batting application. Steven Finn took the key wickets of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni and led the line with venomous intent. Tim Bresnan (right) was his ideal new-ball foil, taking the first two wickets to fall with consecutive away-swingers and mopping up the last two. James Tredwell took two for 25 and was once again metronomic in his precision. India's struggles with willow in hand only served to illuminate the quality of Bell's innings.

"Probably I've been guilty of getting a lot of starts and not going on," said England's centurion. "So to be there in a tight game, not out with a hundred, is exactly what I want to do."

India captain Dhoni knew what he had to do and began the defence of their total with aggressive intent. As the pitch reared into life, Bell and Cook had to contend with three slips. They survived the early skirmishes with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed, but Dhoni soon turned to Ishant Sharma. The pace bowler beat the bat with arresting regularity and, after four overs, he had conceded a miserly four runs and taken the wicket of Cook.

The over that contained the England captain's wicket was a lesson in the art of fast bowling. A diving stop from Suresh Raina, who hit his fourth consecutive half-century, kept Cook on strike. Sharma made sure he did not waste the opportunity: he caught Cook's inside edge with ball two; induced perilous plays and misses from balls three and four; and, with ball five, angled in a fuller delivery that caught the England captain in no man's land, neither forward nor back.

There was no bat in sight, just the sound of a crashing middle stump as Cook headed back to the pavilion with 22 runs from 40 balls. In strode Kevin Pietersen to a rapturous reception. He was gone six overs later, during which time England's No 3 and Bell added just 11 runs. He was undone by extra pace from Ahmed and undercut a pull shot into the hands of a running Ravindra Jadeja.

With two wickets gone, Bell dropped anchor as new batsman Joe Root took it upon himself to lower the rising required rate. The 22-year-old dispatched the previously parsimonious Kumar for 10 runs, forcing Dhoni to introduce Yuvraj in an effort to surprise Root and Bell into an error, instead the pair tucked in to his fare with relish. Bell took the opportunity to register his 25th one-day half-century, his watchful 50 coming off 88 balls.

It was off the more incisive spin of Jadeja that India made their final breakthrough. Root had looked assured until the moment he chose to sweep a shorter ball and was bowled for 31 failing to get to the pitch. There were still 84 runs required when Eoin Morgan joined Bell at the crease. They made short and sharp work of acquiring them.

After containing his natural game, Bell unfurled the full range of his talents. A calculated reverse sweep and an elegant six over long-on off Ravichandran Ashwin stood out for their combination of 21st-century extravagance and 20th-century MCC textbook timing. His century came with a caressed on-side drive, his second 50 coming off only 45 balls. After showing a marked improvement following back-to-back 5-0 whitewashes on Indian soil, Bell's innings was a fitting finale.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
News
people
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments