Bell’s century takes England to 296/2 (Second Lead)

August 19th, 2011 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Virender Sehwag London, Aug 19 (IANS) Ian Bell struck his 16th Test century as England made 296 for two in the first innings at tea on the second day of the fourth cricket Test against India at The Oval here Friday.

India put on a much improved show in the morning session, quickly dismissing openers Alastair Cook (34) and Andrew Strauss (40). But England came back strongly in the post-lunch session with a 199-run unbeaten third wicket partnership between Bell (114) and Kevin Pietersen, who was two short of his 19th Test century at the break.

England added just 51 runs in the morning session after the Indian bowlers, specially Ishant Sharma, bowled well.

Unlike the first day, when only the first session’s play was possible due to heavy rains, the England batsmen struggled to score runs in the morning session despite the cloud cover giving way to a clear blue sky.

India made a perfect start when Ishant Sharma drew Cook to a drive but a healthy edge flew to Virender Sehwag to first slip. It took 20 minutes for England to add to their overnight score of 75 for no loss as Ishant made life difficult for the batsmen. Ishant’s first spell read 6-3-7-1.

Sreesanth delivered the second blow with a wide delivery and Strauss edged to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni after adding just two to his overnight score. The temperamental fast bowler was good in spells but was too expensive.

India could have added another wicket in the last ball of the session when Pietersen flicked Ishant to leg-slip Suresh Raina, who was unsure if the catch was clean. Replays weren’t conclusive either.

But after the lunch break, the Indian bowling fell apart as both Bell and Pietersen scored runs at an average of 4.47 runs per over.

Pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, who is making a Test comeback after three years, was stiff while bowling and was rusty while fielding. Rudra Pratap was slow off the block at long-off and missed a chance to get rid of Pietersen, who miscued Raina but was lucky to fall short off Rudra Pratap. The left-arm pacer was jeered by the crowd after he failed to stop a sweep by Pietersen off Sachin Tendulkar that went for a four.

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