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Renewed Bell kicks on for England

NatWest Series

Ian Bell

Ian Bell worked on aggressive tactics in the middle overs with Warwickshire, hard graft that paid off at Trent Bridge tonight

Ian Bell reflected that hard graft with Warwickshire has allowed him to return a better one-day player for England as he helped open up a lead against Bangladesh in the NatWest Series.

England knocked off a modest target of 251 with 29 balls remaining and six wickets in hand in the day/night encounter at Trent Bridge, while there were encouraging spells from Paul Collingwood and Stuart Broad.

Captain Andrew Strauss hit a dashing 50 off 37 balls, but the key innings came from the recalled Bell, who made 84 not out to see England home.

Reflecting on his efforts in his first ODI since England’s tour to India in 2008, Bell said: "I felt confident in my ability to go out and play and I've been working as hard as I can with Warwickshire on playing spin bowlers and hitting boundaries in the middle overs.

"Hopefully that's what I've put in (to effect) here - the hard work over the last 12 months.

"I was lucky enough to have some time with the Lions to get myself in form for this and I enjoyed every minute of going out and scoring runs."

Bell was only in the XI due to the absence of the injured Kevin Pietersen and he accepts his role as a supporting player in the limited-overs side.

"I know where I am in this squad and I have to keep knocking on the door and working hard," he said. "But it was nice to have the opportunity to go out and score some runs.

"I guess we have a line-up that has been fantastic over the last 12-16 months and I've got to keep working hard to be around this squad.

"I'm one of the reserves but it's nice to have had that time with the Lions and to be in good form.

"Today it was just a matter of playing the situation and that's what we needed to do."

Strauss was also pleased with Bell's display, citing his flexibility as a potentially crucial attribute in the future.

Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Paul Collingwood & Mushfiqur Rahim

The England batsmen peer over Mushfiqur Rahim as he is taken off to hospital for X-rays and a departure from the tour

"The great thing with Belly is he can pretty much bat anywhere in the order; he's a pretty versatile cricketer," said Strauss.

"When you see him play innings like this, the top of the order seems like the more logical place for him to play, but he plays the spinners well too, so to come in lower down is not an issue.

"That's part of the reason why he has forced his way back into the squad.

"He is adaptable and he's playing in a more aggressive manner now that puts opposition players under pressure."

Things went from bad to worse for Bangladesh with the news that Mushfiqur Rahim and Raqibul Hasan are both out of the remainder of the series.

Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur left the field on a stretcher after being struck in the face standing up to Faisal Hossain and was tonight in hospital undergoing X-rays, while Raqibul fractured his toe after being hit by a James Anderson yorker.

The pair's absence is a blow for a Bangladesh side who are already on the ropes having failed to win in 24 matches across all forms of international cricket this year.

Mushfiqur is one of their most talented batsmen, not to mention the only specialist gloveman in the touring party, and Raqibul top-scored with 76 today on his return to the national side following a brief retirement.

Tigers captain Mashrafe Mortaza said replacements were being considered but, with the second and third matches taking place on Saturday and Monday, time is short.

Mortaza said: "Mushfiqur is still in hospital and he is out for a week. Raqibul is out for two weeks, he has a fracture in his toe.

"We are trying to bring a keep over maybe, and (Mohammad) Ashraful or Naeem (Islam) may be coming over too. But we don't know; we haven't taken that decision."

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