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Bell climbs into rich form

England Lions

Ian Bell

Ian Bell claimed psychological points ahead of the NatWest Series by striking a career-best 158 against India A yesterday

Ian Bell was delighted to reflect on a commanding knock ahead of the NatWest Series, but warned England Lions that a better bowling performance would be needed to win their own one-day series.

Bell smashed 158 against India A yesterday, the highest one-day score of his career, but remarkably the Lions’ 343 for eight batting first was not enough to earn them victory in the last group match of the triangular tournament.

Nonetheless, a tied game sees the same sides reconvene at New Road tomorrow for the final, with Bell likely to be absent with England 83 miles north-east at Trent Bridge.

Captain for the day, Bell derived great enjoyment from a thrilling game.

“It was a great game of cricket - what Lions cricket is all about,” Bell told ECBtv.

“It asked questions of our players in pressure situations and was a good day out for us. The whole week’s been really worthwhile being here.

“I thought Darren Stevens and Steve Davies played really well. Hopefully one of those guys goes on and plays another innings like that.

“I know the selectors made a conscious effort of picking a strong one-day side for this tournament, and it’s worked so far.”

Bell’s pleasure was tempered by yesterday’s run-chase, which saw India A keep wickets intact, and Wriddhiman Saha’s unbeaten 36 take them to parity.

Liam Plunkett bowled excellently for the Lions, claiming 4-58, but his skipper cautioned that better would be needed from the bowlers if they are to prevent Cheteshwar Pujara’s side winning out tomorrow.

“Against West Indies we bowled fantastically well, but we weren’t perhaps to that standard here,” said Bell.

“The newer ball was going to be the easiest time to bat. Maybe we could have got a couple more wickets in that middle period. We couldn’t quite get the squeeze on them.

“We’ve got to make sure we nail the basics in the final.”

With Kevin Pietersen absent from England’s three matches against Bangladesh, a spot has become vacant in England’s top-order, which Bell, along with Jonathan Trott, will be keen to take.

“I was quite happy with the way I’ve been hitting the ball (recently),” Bell added.

“But it’s nice to get a big score under my belt going into more one-day cricket.”

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