Ian Bell fires England to one-day victory in Australia

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Ian Bell provided a convincing audition for a regular place in England's limited-overs team as he struck an unbeaten century to help the tourists to an seven-wicket win over a Prime Minister's XI in Canberra.

The Warwickshire right-hander was given the chance at the top of the order in the absence of the rested Andrew Strauss and played with assertive ease to guide England home with nine balls to spare in the rain-reduced match.



The Prime Minister's XI had set a difficult chase of 258 from 43 overs with Michael Yardy the pick of the English attack as he claimed three for 33.



But Bell ensured the tourists always stayed above the required rate, with the persistent threat of rain, hitting 124no from 102 balls to boost his chances of forcing his way into the Twenty20 team ahead of Wednesday's match at Adelaide.



Bell has not played a Twenty20 for his country since June 2008, when he made 60 not out against New Zealand, but after an impressive summer in Australia could force his way back in.



There are a clutch of players vying for a place in England's batting order, with Kevin Pietersen the most notable in the 50-over format after he was dropped for the most recent series against Pakistan.



It was therefore notable that the only four players England retained from their Ashes success in Sydney three days ago were batsmen, with Bell, Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and stand-in skipper Paul Collingwood all selected.



But it was only Bell and Trott, who posted 48, who got to put forward their cases with any authority as the Warwickshire batsman stamped his class from the outset of the chase.



While opening partner Steven Davies was twice dropped before he eventually departed for 24, Bell ensured the scoreboard ticked over with traditional strokeplay.



He hit the expensive Trent Copeland for three consecutive boundaries as England reach 50 from 39 balls and had made 49 before a 30-minute rain delay reduced the chase to 223 off 35 overs.



Now needing 138 from 22.1 overs, and with nine wickets in hand, the target always looked well within England's capabilities while Bell's composing presence remained.



Bell rode his luck when Ferguson spilled a chance overhead on 71 and while Trott fell just short of a half-century, edging Xacier Doherty to wicketkeeper Tim Paine, Bell reached his century from 89 balls.



Pietersen fell late when he was trapped lbw by Brett Lee for 13 before Bell and Eoin Morgan saw England over the line.



Earlier, Yardy was the pick of England's bowlers as he and Ajmal Shahzad claimed three wickets apiece in a slightly rusty bowling display from the tourists.



Paine won the toss, conducted by Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and chose to bat to immediately test an England attack which relied on new arrivals Chris Woakes, Luke Wright, James Tredwell and Yardy, who were all given the chance to acquaint themselves with Australian conditions.



They were forced to wait 55 minutes by a rain delay but when the players eventually emerged Shahzad and Woakes both struggled for their line and length with openers Paine and Usman Khawaja untroubled as they added 75 from the first 13 overs before the introduction of spin.



Tredwell made the initial breakthrough when he claimed a sharp return catch from Khawaja, who had got off the mark with a hook for six off Woakes, to depart for 22.



Yardy then made a double breakthrough as he claimed the key wicket of Paine and Alex Keath with almost identical lbw decisions.



Paine had only just reached his half-century from 59 balls when he failed to put bat on attempted push to leg before Keath, who had driven Tredwell for a pair of straight fours, paid for attempting a more deft touch.



Yardy claimed a third wicket when Tom Thornton offered a return catch, but the hosts fell to 179 for five.



Dan Christian, however, remained and showed the clean hitting that earned him the US Dollars 900,000 contract paid by the Deccan Chargers for his services at the IPL auction yesterday.



The burly right-hander's power set the run-rate ticking over again despite Woakes returning to grab his first wicket, thanks to an athletic diving catch by Collingwood at short mid-wicket.



Christian's run-a-ball innings of 53 was cut short when top-edged a catch to Pietersen off Shahzad, who produced a far better second spell after his early loss of radar.



The Yorkshireman was rewarded at the death with the further dismissal of Doherty, giving him three wickets albeit at the cost of 61 runs from his nine overs.

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