Bell ton not enough for England
England suffered a six-wicket loss to Delhi, despite Ian Bell’s hundred, in a high-scoring last warm-up game before the one-day series with India.
Bell’s fine 108 underpinned a strong score of 294 for five, but 110 from fellow opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan set up a successful chase with nine balls to spare at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
It was Bell’s second impressive innings in three days following his 91 in the 53-run Duckworth/Lewis defeat to India A in the tourists’ other warm-up for five one-day internationals with India, beginning on Friday at Rajkot.
He shared a 113-run stand with Eoin Morgan, who made a bright 52, while there were also runs for returning captain Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter.
However, Dhawan set the tone for the response before Milind Kumar and Rajat Bhatia completed victory with an unbroken stand of 103 in 12 overs to end on 78 and a 33-delivery 45 respectively.
Delhi signalled their intentions to chase hard from the off, India Under-19 captain Unmukt Chand profiting from being dropped via a top edge. Jade Dernbach sent down three overs for seven, only to see his economy rate spoiled when Dhawan lofted him for six.
Dhawan reached a swift fifty before James Tredwell struck twice in quick succession to peg the hosts back. Chand was first down with the score 98, chipping softly to mid-on for 37 and Jagrit Anand was cheaply bowled.
Dhawan continued by pulling Stuart Meaker for a powerful six and Milind lifted Tredwell for another maximum.
England thought they had Dhawan caught behind on 96 but the umpire disagreed and the batsman made the most of his chance by hoisting Tredwell into the stands to bring up his century in style.
His charge ended when Joe Root trapped him lbw, having hit 14 fours and three sixes, to open the door for England. Cook restored his openers to the action and Dernbach promptly bowled Vaibhav Rawal.
However, Milind’s half-century arrived from 65 balls and Delhi required 75 from the last 10 overs which became 30 off five as the chase went serenely.
Bell’s innings had begun quietly as he was comfortably outscored by Cook.
The captain looked in good touch from the moment he hit a pair of boundaries in the fourth over and had 44 of England’s 70 runs by the time he was bowled by Sumit Narwal in the 16th over.
One glorious shot over extra-cover aside, Bell played a conservative game of accumulation in the first half of the innings.
Root and Samit Patel both fell to Varun Sood’s left-arm spin but Bell brought up his fifty with a rare show of extravagance, swiping Bhatia for six.
Bell survived a stumping chance on 60 and Morgan was dropped on 23 yet it was to be a profitable stand worth 113.
Morgan launched Ashish Nehra for the first of two sixes and Bell picked off Sood for successive boundaries before a nudged single brought up his hundred.
Bell eventually went lbw to Sood, having struck nine fours and two maximums, before Morgan was caught off Jagrit Anand.
Kieswetter ended the innings emphatically, getting some valuable time in the middle and making 41 not out in 27 balls, including sixes off the last two deliveries of the innings.