Trott and Bell ease England to glory
Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell compiled masterful centuries that helped steer England to an historic first Test series victory in India for almost 28 years.
Written off in many quarters following a heavy loss in the first encounter that continued a disappointing year in the longest format, Alastair Cook’s side have bounced back outstandingly over the ensuing three.
Led impressively by their skipper, man of the series for his mammoth 562 runs, the hosts inflicted similarly comprehensive defeats on India in Mumbai and Kolkata before finishing the job with a draw at Nagpur today.
That they managed the latter was thanks in no small part to Trott and Bell, who ensured a slight wobble yesterday evening remained just that with an incredibly composed 208-run partnership.
The upshot was England eventually reaching 352 for four, Trott having struck an outstanding 143, before Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Cook opted to bring proceedings to a halt at the earliest opportunity.
Bell finished unbeaten on 116 and Joe Root 20, in the process ensuring Cook’s 2012 vintage matched David Gower’s from 1984-85 by triumphing on what is arguably the toughest tour in world cricket.
Such cool heads represented a significant leap forward for England’s batsmen, who struggled notably in the United Arab Emirates when being whitewashed by Pakistan at the start of the year.
Yet their response to those travails, following up a 1-1 draw in Sri Lanka with this success, represents a significant achievement - one for which the management team, led by Andy Flower, deserves great credit.
A player who likewise should be lauded is James Anderson - man of the match for his 4-81 from 32 overs at the VCA Stadium that made him the most potent seamer in the series with 12 scalps. Graeme Swann and Pragyan Ojha were the leading wicket-takers with 20 each.
Even heading into the final day of this rubber, there was plenty of work to do; quick wickets would have left India an opportunity to avoid their first Test series loss on home soil since 2004.
Yet Trott and Bell quickly snuffed out those hopes, playing with impressive poise and intent on a slow pitch that was seemingly not designed with smooth scoring in mind. It was an early cover drive from the latter that began a brief boundary rush, with his partner prospering when hitting straight and through midwicket.
Enjoying the added pace of a new ball, the duo batted with consummate ease in keeping the scoreboard ticking over without alarm.
It was a period that seemed to entirely drain India and, after Bell reached his fifty and Trott his century, the duo were content to retreat and rely upon good running until lunch.
That was a formula that they stuck by throughout an afternoon session that yielded just 70 runs, the highlights of which were several powerful whips through leg from Trott - who eventually fell just prior to tea, caught at leg slip off Ravichandran Ashwin.
That departure heralded the arrival of debutant Root, who followed up his first-innings 73 with another composed stay that featured an early slog-swept six off Ashwin.
Unusually, Bell struggled to impose himself in the same manner - with the exception of a driven six over mid-off against Ravindra Jadeja - yet brought up a well-deserved hundred after the last interval via a clip to leg for three.
For what his effort lacked in the style one expects from Bell, it made up for in a determination that was admirable.
It was a determination shown by both he and Trott, a determination that epitomised England’s outstanding effort in a series that will live long in the memory.
9:50am - MATCH DRAWN; ENGLAND WIN SERIES 2-1 - That's that then. The captains agree to end proceedings there, after Bell had helped himself to a couple more boundaries. England, who declared on 352 for four with Bell on 116 and Root 20, can now toast a quite sensational series victory that ranks alongside anything they have achieved over the last couple of years. Brilliant.
9:35am - CENTURY! Bell (293b 13x4 1x6) - Well, Bell does get there. After Joe Root reverse-sweeps Ravichandran Ashwin for four, his partner reaches a well-deserved ton a couple of overs later with a clip to leg for three.
9:19am - Bell has added just two to his score since tea. Surely he will target three figures...
9:02am - All eyes on Ian Bell in the final session of the series as he eyes a first Test hundred in 18 months. The number five starts nervously after the break, inside-edging Ravindra Jadeja into the leg side.
8:40am - TEA! - England 310/4; Bell 87, Root 7 - Excellent stuff from Root, who powerfully slog-sweeps Ashwin over midwicket for six. And now it's tea. There will probably be just 50 minutes left when play resumes.
8:25am - WICKET! Trott c Kohli b Ashwin 143; Eng 302/4 - Well, India finally get their first wicket of the day. Trott looks to work Ashwin through leg, but the ball runs off the face of the bat and into the hands of Virat Kohli at leg slip.
8:16am - 200 PARTNERSHIP - Excellent response to that let-off from Bell as he moves down the pitch and crunches Ravindra Jadeja over mid-off for six. The alliance moves past 200.
7:59am - DROPPED CHANCE! - I was just about to suggest Bell may get frustrated having found fielders with several well-timed strokes. He tries to powerfully cut Ravichandran Ashwin and edges, but is dropped by Virender Sehwag at slip. That just about sums up India's day.
7:56m - I am not sure I will ever get bored of watching Trott whip these deliveries through leg. Excellent timing brings another four.
7:41am - Trott finds the boundary for a 16th time, opening the face to guide a Chawla full-toss through backward point. Time for a drink.
7:28am - India have seemingly run out of fight here, worn down by outstanding efforts in concentration by Bell and Trott. They continue to grind.
7:10am - That, of course, leaves plenty of time for Bell to score a century, and he edges closer with back-to-back off-side fours off Chawla.
7am - There is not let up from Trott and Ian Bell as they continue to eke out runs. The earliest this game could finish, by the way, is 9:50am should the two captains agree.
6:44am - Not the best start to a session as Piyush Chawla is too full and straight with his first two deliveries, Jonathan Trott clipping the first through leg for four before repeating the trick and taking three next ball.
6:01am - LUNCH! - England 240/3; Trott 106, Bell 62 - Trott and Bell have settled down since the former - who survived a close lbw appeal from Chawla - reached his century. India look increasingly downbeat and head into lunch seemingly resigned to an England series success.
5:38am - CENTURY! - Trott (232b 14x4 0x6) - Some lazy fielding from India, who look increasingly dejected, brings Trott four following a cover drive off Piyush Chawla. The batsman then reaches a quite brilliant century with yet another flick to the midwicket rope. Exceptional knock.
5:26m - FIFTY! - Bell (130b 9x4 0x6) - What an excellent way to reach the milestone; Bell drives powerfully down the ground off Ashwin. These two are really cruising now and an historic series victory seems inevitable.
5:23am - How many times has he hit through there? Trott feasts on Ojha’s bowling too full by hammering a four through midwicket.
5am - England are knocking runs around with ease now. Time for a drink. Excellent first hour for the tourists.
4:47am - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP! - Stylish shot once more from Bell, who moves the partnership into three figures with a drive off Ashwin. Excellent stuff.
4:38am - Another fine straight drive from Trott brings four more, albeit with the help of some poor fielding from Ravichandran Ashwin. Bell then sweeps for another boundary! I think we may have doubled the boundary count for the match in the first 40 minutes today…
4:30am - England have been very positive - and even more impressive - thus far. Bell finds the boundary once more, powerfully pulling Ishant through midwicket. That’s a shot no other player has managed to time in this Test.
4:20am - Ian Bell has just played one of the best shots we’ve seen in the Test, leaning into a sumptuous cover drive off Ishant. India then produce a vociferous lbw appeal when Trott is hit on the pad off Ravindra Jadeja. The ball pitched outside leg, hit him outside the line and was missing leg. Good decision, I think! England’s number three finishes the over with a flowing straight drive that goes to the fence.
4:12am - Lovely shot from Trott, who times a push wide of mid-on perfectly and takes three off Ishant Sharma. England’s lead now stands at 170, which is substantial given that scoring 200 runs in a day has proved difficult on this surface.
4:02am - Jonathan Trott runs a single in the first over, bowled by Pragyan Ojha, before India take the new ball at the earliest opportunity.
3:52am - India, meanwhile, will desperately hunt early wickets this morning as they look to avoid a first series loss at home since 2004.
3:40am - The hosts, having come from 1-0 behind to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match rubber, are scenting a first Test series success in India for almost 28 years after Jonathan Trott’s unbeaten 66 put them in excellent shape.
3:30am - Good morning and welcome to ecb.co.uk’s live coverage of the crucial fourth and final Test between India and England.