Giant leap for Bell
Ian Bell believes he took a “massive step forward” in making a game-winning century in the last one-day international with India.
Bell, who was man of the match for his unbeaten 113 from the top of the order, admits he has not capitalised on enough starts to innings during his 123 ODIs.
Yet today in Dharamsala he struck 13 fours and a six in the 143 balls he faced during a seven-wicket win that came with 14 deliveries to spare.
Although that only limited the hosts’ margin of series victory to 3-2, Bell was able to reflect on his third format hundred and second versus India.
“Through my one-day career I seem to have made lots of good starts and not go on. So to be here not out at the end of the game is a massive step forward for me. I enjoyed that,” he said.
Bell and opening partner Alastair Cook had to survive a tricky period against the new balls as bowlers continued to prosper on a fast wicket after Tim Bresnan had led the way with 4-45 to dismiss India for 226.
“The longer you stayed out there, the easier it got. Credit to our bowlers up front who set the tone. Chasing 220 was a nice target to go after,” Bell explained.
“I think it was difficult up front. It was a good toss to win early in the morning. The bowlers put the ball in good areas and it just did enough all day.”
Bell, who hit 85 in the first game of the rubber - England’s other win, wants to continue opening the ODI batting with his captain.
“I’ve been up and down the order and I really love opening the batting and hopefully I can go with Cookie for a while now,” he added.
Cook echoed Bell’s praise for England’s bowlers, mentioning not only Bresnan but Steven Finn who returned 2-27 from 10 overs before lauding Bell.
“They’ve bowled well these last two games. Bressie got the early wickets and then Finny got some important wickets later on,” he said.
“We can take lots of positives out of today. And I thought the way we timed our chase - we held our nerve - we wanted one of the top four to be not out and win the game, and Ian Bell played a fantastic knock there.”
After adding 53 with Cook, who also found batting tricky, Bell was well supported by Joe Root and Eoin Morgan who contributed 31 and an unbeaten 40 respectively.
“The ball was doing stuff throughout the whole day,” Cook added.
“It might have looked like we got over the line comfortably but there was a few nerves along the way. But, as we’ve found with these new regulations, if you keep wickets in hand, you can score quite freely at the end.”
Cook admitted to mixed feelings, with his side having already lost the five-match series prior to today’s fixture.
“It was very important to end the series on a high but there's always disappointment when you come to try and win a series then lose 3-2,” said the captain.
“We've had a really good couple of years in ODIs, so of course we're a little bit disappointed in the result of the series.
“It's probably a little frustrating. I said at the start of the tour that when we play to our potential we win games, and when we have played well here we've put India under some pressure. Obviously in a couple of games we didn't do that.”
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni thinks his side missed an opportunity to claim a fourth straight win.
“Overall I think we should have won this game,” he said.
“It was not really the amount of runs we should have put on the board. It was a situation where if we had we batted slightly more sensibly we would have scored maybe 30-35 more runs, but it is a young side and you learn from your mistakes.”