Ian Bell: Winning hit made that beer taste sweet

Running out Pujara was like hitting the back of the net for Aston Villa

Where to start? To hit the winning runs for England in a Test match in Kolkata is beyond boyhood dreams. I said in my column last week that just playing Test cricket at Eden Gardens was the fulfilment of an ambition. Although, when I woke up yesterday morning I certainly wasn't expecting to be walking out with us three down.

After the disappointment of Ahmedabad and then watching our Mumbai win on TV, to play a part in back-to-back victories in India is a moment that deserves to be savoured. Someone told me that it's pretty much 60 Tests since South Africa managed the same feat.

That made the beers we cracked open in the dressing room afterwards taste even sweeter. Although, we've now discovered the downside of cricket starting so early over here. A 9am first ball and a mercifully quick finish, leaving aside those three wickets, meant the beers were opened before pubs would even be open back at home. So yesterday was all about pacing ourselves as we toasted what feels like a significant win for English cricket, especially after going behind in the series.

We allowed the celebrations to carry on through to last night, within reason. It's important to let ourselves savour victories as they come along and not get too wrapped up in the bigger picture all the time. After all, we're only the second England team ever to experience victory at Eden Gardens.

Alongside the celebrations come moments of reflection. To be honest, my match-clinching stint at the crease was exactly what my game needed. I've made no secret of the fact that I've been struggling for rhythm before this Test. Rhythm is such an elusive quality and is hard for a batsman to put into words, but let me try. There's a chemistry between your batting brain, the fluidity of your feet movement and your general feel at the crease, it goes beyond technique and only comes about when all three are in synch.

Hunting it down can lead you into a vicious circle. Time at the crease is usually the best remedy but out in the middle can be the worst place to be when things aren't quite clicking. I've been spending a lot of time with Graham Gooch, our batting coach, and with his experience of making runs here in India, there isn't a better man to take stock of my game. However, that's where the vicious cycle begins, as it's far harder to replicate the rhythm of the nets in the cauldron of a stadium like Eden Gardens.

That was the certainly the case in my first innings. It's always frustrating to be cooped up in the pavilion for over a day itching to get out there. Although, I can't complain too much as, once again, Cookie gave us a complete masterclass in batting on the subcontinent. It was only a freak run-out that deprived him of an incredible double century. We haven't had a proper chance to give him enough stick for his 'evasive action' just yet but don't worry we'll get our chance once the serious business of getting a result in Nagpur is out the way. Cookie called it a 'brain freeze' and I know exactly how he feels after my incident at Trent Bridge last summer so I may leave the ribbing to the rest of the lads.

Before I start thinking ahead to the fourth Test, I'd like to get away from my batting travails and talk about the other contribution I made to the match. Obviously, it would be ideal if all of the top six could be scoring centuries but I've been playing cricket long enough to know that's just wishful thinking. So, to be responsible for dismissing Pujara in their second innings felt as good as making a half-century – and given that he's scored more than 400 runs this series, perhaps even more. Trust me, no one wants to see me bowl in Test cricket; there is a reason I've only bowled 108 balls in 82 Test matches – although I have taken a Test wicket (answers on a postcard). That means I had to rely on my fielding to make up for my lack of runs in the first innings.

It's always a great buzz to be responsible for a run out. As a batsman you only really get to celebrate like one of the bowlers when you reach three figures, so a direct hit feels like hitting the back of the net for Aston Villa. Swanny had just produced a piece of magic to get rid of Sehwag. The way Sehwag bats you always feel like you've got a chance but I've seen up close in Chennai on our last tour how he can take the game away from you.

Pujara offers a different challenge. He's been India's danger man all series; not only has he got the patience to bat all day, he's also got the attacking strokes to really trouble the scorers. As a fellow batsman I could only watch with frustration – and appreciation – when he began his innings with two text-book strokes for four; shots like that are the real proof of a man in form and hungry for runs. Momen-tum is key in any sport and at that point it had shifted in India's favour.

You're always hoping you can get rid of a batsman like that as soon as possible. It was an instinctive bit of fielding but I can still see the pick and release in slow motion. As soon as the ball was half-way out of my hand I knew it was on target, it then just became a race between Pujara and the conker. As you could probably tell from my celebration, I knew straight away he was short. Cue those celebrations and, for the rest of the afternoon, we managed to celebrate again and again and again until Ashwin decided to dig in.

Our fielding coach, Richard Halsall, has spent all of this tour drilling into us the importance of our ground fielding. Wickets can be so hard to come by in India, as we learned in the first Test, so for the team to pull off two key run-outs makes all that hard slog through countless fielding drills feel worthwhile.

Where to end? It wasn't just the run-outs or Cookie's batting. Our bowlers from Jimmy to Finn to Monty and Swann always looked like taking 20 wickets and that is what we need to do to win in Nagpur. We head to this week's fourth Test in confident mood. After so many difficult tours to the subcontinent, it's satisfying to finally have the opposition worrying about selection issues. We've got them on the back foot – and that's exactly where we plan on keeping them.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
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

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on