Strauss hails 'versatile' Bell following victory

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The Independent Online

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza will wake up this morning sifting through the debris of a six-wicket defeat at Trent Bridge as well as injuries to two key players, but for Andrew Strauss things are looking much rosier.

Mortaza must deal with the absence of wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who was taken to hospital for X-rays after taking a blow to the face, and top-scorer Raqibul Hasan (fractured toe) from the second and third matches of the NatWest Series, while Strauss' biggest headache appears to be how to fit the in-form Ian Bell into his first XI.

Bell, playing his first ODI since November 2008 in place of the injured Kevin Pietersen, saw England past their target of 251 with a measured 84 not out.

Assessing the 28-year-old's performance in a position he is unlikely to retain upon Pietersen's return, Strauss said. "The great thing with Belly is he can pretty much bat anywhere in the order; he's a pretty versatile cricketer.

"When you see him play innings like this, the top of the order seems like the more logical place for him to play but he plays the spinners well too so to come in lower down is not an issue.

"That's part of the reason why he has forced his way back into the squad. He is adaptable and he's playing in a more aggressive manner now that puts opposition players under pressure."

Bell has actively worked on advancing his limited-overs game with Warwickshire and the England Lions since being omitted from the ODI set-up.

That work appears to be paying dividends now, but he accepts he has to keep improving to maintain the pressure on England's established one-day batsmen.

"I know where I am in this squad and I have to keep knocking on the door and working hard," he said.

"But it was nice to have the opportunity to go out and score some runs.

"I guess we have a line-up that has been fantastic over the last 12-16 months and I've got to keep working hard to be around this squad.

"I'm one of the reserves but it's nice to have had time with the Lions and to be in good form.

"I felt confident in my ability to go out and play and I've been working as hard as I can with Warwickshire on playing spin bowlers and hitting boundaries in the middle overs."

For Mortaza - and his dejected side, who have now lost all 24 international matches they have contested this year - the outlook is grim.

On his latest injury worries, the experienced seamer said: "Mushfiqur is still in hospital and he is out for a week.

"Raqibul is out for two weeks, he has a fracture in his toe.

"We are trying to bring a keeper over maybe, and (Mohammad) Ashraful or Naeem (Islam) may be coming over too. But we don't know, we haven't taken that decision.

"It is hard to have injuries to two key players."