SOUTHAMPTON, England (AFP) –
Ian Bell marked his return to England’s one-day side with a stylish century as they beat the West Indies by 114 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis method in their series opener Saturday.
Man-of-the-match Bell, filling the opener’s spot vacated by Kevin Pietersen following the South Africa-born batsman’s retirement from limited overs internationals, responded with 126 in an England total of 288 for six made after the hosts lost the toss.
“I really enjoyed it, it was nice to go out there and play some shots at the top of the order,” said Bell.
“Nerves can be a good thing, some butterflies in the stomach, I’ve played well in the Tests and wanted to continue that.
“This is a big ground, so if you can’t hit fours and sixes, you have to run the ones and twos.
“I’ve been playing good cricket in Tests, I’ve got some confidence from that and it’s good to transfer it over.”
Dwayne Smith looked to be making up for the absence of big-hitting opener Chris Gayle, whose much anticipated international return after 15 months out following a spat with West Indies cricket chiefs was delayed by a shin injury.
However, when Smith was dismissed for 56 it was the start of a slump that saw the tourists lose their last nine wickets for 77 runs.
West Indies, 127 for five off 23 overs when rain stopped play, were set a revised target of 287 in 48 overs.
But they finished on 172 all out as England won with more than 14 overs left.
That meant England went 1-0 up with two to play ahead of Tuesday’s match at The Oval.
Tim Bresnan, who led England’s attack with four wickets for 34 runs, sealed an emphatic victory when he had last man Sunil Narine well caught by diving wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter.
“The bowlers again did fantastically and it was a really good effort to get them out for that score,” added Bell, whose hundred was only the 30-year-old’s second in his 109 one-day internationals, with his 126 not out against India in 2007 also made here at the Rose Bowl.
And this innings came just a day after Bell’s participation was put in doubt when he was struck a severe blow on the chin while batting in the indoor nets.
But, overcoming fears of a broken jaw, Bell helped the hosts recover from the shock of losing opening partner Alastair Cook, England’s one-day captain, for a third ball nought during a second-wicket stand of 108 with Warwickshire colleague Jonathan Trott (42).
“It was a fantastic knock from Ian and close to 300 is hard to chase on any ground,” said Cook.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy, who had backed his side to win this series, said: “It was a pretty good wicket and Ian Bell played a good innings but we backed ourselves to get the runs. No one went on like Bell, unfortunately.
“Hopefully, Chris Gayle will be fit for Tuesday but we will assess all the guys before then.”
There had been concerns England would struggle at the top of the order in the absence of Pietersen, who finished his one-day career with back-to-back hundreds against Pakistan in Dubai in February.
But Bell, dropped from that series, took 16 runs off the sixth over from Andre Russell courtesy of a straight six and two elegant fours.
Bell was out when he top-edged a slower ball from seamer Dwayne Bravo to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin.
His previous best as a one-day opener was the 77 he made against Australia in a 2007 World Cup match in Antigua.
West Indies saw Smith go on the attack but his 44-ball innings finished when he edged an intended pull off seamer Bresnan to Kieswetter.
Bresnan then made it two wickets for three runs in five balls when Ramdin, promoted because Darren Bravo was unable to bat at number three due to a groin strain, was lbw for 22.
After the rain break, Marlon Samuels — a thorn in England’s side during the Tests — holed out off James Anderson and wickets continued to fall steadily.