Bell familiar with Chanderpaul threat
Ian Bell is all too aware of what is standing in England’s way as they pursue victory in the first Investec Test against West Indies.
The home side seem to be closing in on the perfect start to their summer, with West Indies’ position – they are 35 adrift of England on 120 for four in their second innings – looking perilous.
Crucially, though, run-machine Shivnarine Chanderpaul – who hit 87 not out in the first innings – remains at the crease following a typically obdurate display this evening.
The world’s number-one ranked batsman took 71 deliveries to hit his first boundary today, yet ended on 34 from 95 balls.
Bell and England know the work that will be required to not only dislodge Chanderpaul, who has already faced 270 balls in this encounter, tomorrow but in the rest of the rubber too.
“We knew we had to work hard, even more so to get Chanderpaul out in that middle order - in the series, let alone in this innings,” said England’s number five, who struck 61 today.
“It would have been nice (to get Chanderpaul out). But it's Test cricket against the number-one batsman in the world, so we expected him to fight against our attack.”
Indeed, Chanderpaul will fight – though it is often the lone vigil in which he specialises.
This evening, however, the Guyanese found a willing allay in Marlon Samuels, with whom he shared an unbroken 55-run stand at a point when England may have been scenting a three-day finish.
Samuels finished 26 not out, but Bell knows a couple more wickets would see the hosts’ victory push gather steam once more.
“You can always expect Lord's to get flatter and flatter, never deteriorate,” he added. “We're two wickets away now from all-rounders and bowlers.
“We hope it will be good conditions to bowl in tomorrow. I thought we bowled well again (today) but just didn't quite get the luck we probably deserved.
“We'll be nice and patient, and hope to get our rewards.”
This morning, Bell played with typical fluency as West Indies’ bowlers performed outstandingly to dismiss England, who resumed on 259 for three, for 398.
His knock ended on 61 when, with just number 11 James Anderson for company, he fell looking to press on the accelerator.
He added: “It was nice to make a contribution that helped us to get a 150-run lead. It felt very good.
“I'm happy to try to hit some boundaries at the end, in those situations. It would have been nice to carry on today, but it was not to be today.”
That he did so in the face of a revived Windies four-prong seam attack was all the more impressive.
Of the quartet, debutant Shannon Gabriel claimed the best figures, of 3-60, having opened his account by bowling Matt Prior.
“It’s special to get your first Test wicket. I bowled yesterday, did not get it and was wondering when it would come,” he admitted.
“I think it was a good performance. I’ve spent two months playing first-class cricket at home, so I was confident that I would play well if given the chance here.
“I did not think I would play a Lord’s Test, but I had to step up to the plate and I think I performed well.”