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Bell slams ton to change the script

England ends third day ahead by 202 runs and with five second-innings wickets left

Bell slams ton to change the script
 - Cricket News
Ian Bell steadied England's innings with an unbeaten century.
Cricket is peculiar. Stuart Broad and Ian Bell can be the only English players remotely satisfied with their performances in this riveting fourth Test, and yet, their team are in a position to win at the end of the third day on Sunday (August 11) at Chester-le-Street. However, England might not win. On a pitch that’s tricky but not impossible, if Australia can take England’s last five wickets quickly and prevent it adding too many to an overnight lead of 202, it will fancy its chances.
Bell’s third century of the series was every bit as wonderful as his first two. Forced to the wicket with his team in trouble at 49 for 3, Bell serenely deconstructed an excellent attack with elegance, precision, and enterprise, offering not a chance in his 105 not out.
England started the day well too, Graeme Swann mining the spin discovered on the second evening and turning his fifth delivery from straight. Trapped on the crease, Brad Haddin took a rap on the knee-roll, bat too high to intercede, and Tony Hill produced the finger. For reasons known best to himself, Haddin chose to review, discovering that he was still plumb, and with his dismissal, momentum swapped; England was into the tail and rid of the man able to take the game away from them.
Four overs later, Swann struck again, Chris Rogers arriving too late as the ball spun back into him. Flicking something, it looped over his head and behind him, Matt Prior, racing into a full-length dive forwards and sliding glove under ball, held a brilliant one-hander. Though Hill said no, Alastair Cook felt yes and so did HotSpot, showing a mark on pad and then glove. Rogers went for 110, and applause.
Despite Swann’s 2 for 6 in ten balls, with both proper batters gone, Cook took the new ball – and almost immediately, Ryan Harris clubbed James Anderson to long-off, taking Australia ahead. But Anderson then happened on a good off stump line, moving one away from Peter Siddle that compelled him to follow it. He prodded low to Cook.
In Anderson’s next over, Nathan Lyon first edged for four and then went to clip a full, straight one from around his legs. Arriving generations late and well after the ball hit the outside of his left pad, he was given out, opting not to review. Hawkeye later showed the ball to be missing leg stump.
With only Jackson Bird left, Harris waded into Broad, hitting him to the boundary thrice in three balls. But then, in his next over, Broad got one to keep lowish, pinning his man on the crease and rattling him on the pad. Not out, reckoned Hill, shaking his head to prove it, but England disagreed, the review revealing Harris to be not just plumb but very plumb. On seeing the replay, Hill was left to overrule himself by himself, as the players raced in to get back out. Broad had a five-for and Australia had a lead of 32, both useful but neither decisive.
Perhaps noting how Rogers had played, Alastair Cook’s intention was more positive than of late and he was not slow to score, helped by a ball doing less than in Australia’s first innings, occasional bounce and grub aside.
But then, Harris hit a length around middle-stump, and though Joe Root might perhaps have advanced a further half-stride, he was still there for it – until he wasn’t. The ball seamed away from him to hit the top of off stump, the bowler waggling his head and inhaling through pursed lips, in thrall to the brilliance he had just perpetrated.
In came Jonathan Trott, who glanced his first ball for four, and continued scoring quickly; though it was hard to ascertain quite how, England was well-placed. One significant innings accompanied by a few odds and sods, and Australia would be in a situation.
But, just as they looked settled, Cook drove loosely at Harris and nicked to Haddin. Out for 22, he departed not at all pleased with his behaviour; England was 42 for 2, and Harris had 2 for 17 in 22 balls.
To the wicket came Kevin Pietersen, off the mark first ball and without any attendant drama. But then Harris sent Trott a brute of bumper, quicker and sharper than anticipated and catching him as he advanced to hook. Late on the shot, it flicked Trott’s glove and Haddin held superbly, leaping high to his left, England’s top three failing once more.
In next was Bell, his frankly absurd touch showing not the remotest sign of forsaking him. From the start, his reactions were speedy enough to cope with the variable bounce, his eyes, hands and feet working in perfect symphony.
Pietersen, meanwhile, was back in his serious man mindset: crucial runs were desperately required, and he was going to ensure that they were achieved by virtue of his brilliance. Largely restraining the aggressive inclination, he was troubled by a Harris bouncer and little else, taking Siddle for consecutive boundaries with the last two balls of the afternoon session.
But as the ball became softer, scoring runs became harder, even Bell playing a false stroke, inside-edging an attempted drive. Though he emerged from quiet to flagellate in reaching his half-century, with successive fours off Harris, Pietersen was becalmed and increasingly fidgety.   
First, he advanced to Lyon and edged an attempted whip as Haddin moved with the line, unable to catch or stump. Then, he did likewise to Bird, the ball striking him on the pad and prompting a review of desperation that failed to satisfy a single requirement. But in the next over, he tried a whip of preference, instead imparting a leading edge that spooned to Rogers at short extra-cover.
Jonny Bairstow arrived at the crease determined to bat not bunt, and quickly came down the pitch to Lyon, creaming him first high and then low to long-on, both very hard. He didn’t score again for 22 balls, before a drive and a pull off Harris brought two more, his confidence restored.
After a quick break for light deemed by the umpires to be bad, Bell and Bairstow returned to attack, Bell unfurling his rhapsodic repertoire of cover drives and back cuts, before a flowing punch down the ground took him into the 90s.
But, just as England took control, Bairstow went to shove Lyon away on the offside and tickled a catch behind – again failing to exploit a good start, but contributing well to a crucial partnership of 66. Tim Bresnan came in as nightwatchman.
With six overs still left in the day, Bell had plenty of time to complete his century, almost done with a top-edged cut that narrowly evaded Michael Clarke’s dive, done with a force to mid-on. Not many Englishmen can ever have batted better.

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