Bell stars with century
London (PTI): Ian Bell's third century in consecutive Ashes tests led an England recovery on day one of the second test against Australia at Lord's on ...
London (PTI): Ian Bell's third century in consecutive Ashes tests led an England recovery on day one of the second test against Australia at Lord's on Thursday, as the home side reached 289 for 7 at stumps. Bell came to the crease with his team in deep trouble on 28-3, but his innings of 109 that spanned just over five hours, frustrated the Australians when they would have scented an England capitulation. The day belonged to Bell, who walked in with his team in a precarious position at 28 for three after a top-order collapse. The 31-year-old then stitched vital partnerships with Trott and Bairstow and buoyed England out of trouble. It was another visually pleasing knock from Bell who played with extreme confidence, boosted by his Trent Bridge heroics. He bombarded the cover-point region with boundaries and brought up his fifty with a cheeky slice to the fence past the diving Phil Hughes at point. He timed the ball to perfection, not needing to use any kind of aggression. After hitting 15 elegant boundaries, Bell reached his second successive ton and third in three consecutive Test matches against Australia as England entered the last hour or so of play at a healthy 271 for four. With the 80th over and the new ball approaching, Michael Clarke decided to give his quicks a rest and brought part-time spinner Steven Smith on. It was akin to the last throw of the dice for the day for Clarke, whose bowlers had toiled in the hot sun on a perfect batting track. But even he wouldn't have expected what would happen over the next 10 overs.In his very first over, Smith got rid of Bell with a vicious turner, which went in the red zone in the host broadcaster's ball revolutions counter, that took Bell's edge and was lapped up by Clarke in first slip. If that was a lucky break, Smith said, hold on, I'm not done yet, as he snapped up the wickets of Bairstow and Matt Prior to drown England from 271 for four to 283 for seven. It was a typical Lord's pitch on offer to both teams Thursday morning. "This pitch is an absolute belter. It is a dry wicket," tweeted Michael Vaughan prior to the start of play. England skipper Alastair Cook agreed and promptly elected to bat first after winning the toss, as he believed the pitch would dry up due to the heat. Michael Clarke concurred that he would have batted as well, and you would think it was advantage England before a ball was bowled. Brief Scores: England 289 for seven (J Trott 58, I Bell 109, J Bairstow 67, R Harris 3/43, SPD?Smith 3/18) vs Australia