'It's great to be involved, churning out the runs'
Saturday 29 July 2006
England's assessment of their position going into the third day of this Test will depend heavily on the state of Steve Harmison's health after their principal strike bowler left the field prematurely last night following an injury scare.
Harmison, the architect of Pakistan's first innings demise here, appeared to pull muscles in his left side with his first ball as the tourists began their second innings. He completed the over but returned to the dressing room shortly afterwards with the physiotherapist.
First indications last night were that the damage was not serious but England were mindful of a possible reaction overnight.
Already without Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones, England can do without the loss of another frontline bowler, especially after Harmison's return to form with 6 for 19 in the first innings. England are in a dominant position, however, and for Pakistan, a deficit of 330 will look daunting. Yet Ian Bell, whose second hundred of this series appears to cement his position in the side, warned against complacency.
"We will not be going out tomorrow thinking the game is won," he said. "There are some world class players in the Pakistan dressing room capable of scoring big runs." Bell was clearly thrilled with his own contribution, describing it as "my most fluent performance for England", and he was oblivious to any suggestion that he had been selected only as a second choice after Flintoff.
"It is just great to be involved, to keep performing, putting the pressure on and keep churning out the runs so that when we get the likes of Vaughan and Flintoff back there is plenty of competition," he said.
Bell's fellow centurion, Alastair Cook, joined his team-mate in praising the contribution made by the tail, who helped add 140 for the last four wickets. "It was a great team effort, especially with Harmy coming in and helping Ian put on 70-odd," he said.
Bell added: "Even if they are not scoring runs they are holding up an end and frustrating the bowlers. It is when that happens that the opposition's heads can just drop a little."
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