Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ballance Blow as Battling Bell Blasts Back into Top Form; Battling Bell Blasts His Way Back into Peak Form

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ballance Blow as Battling Bell Blasts Back into Top Form; Battling Bell Blasts His Way Back into Peak Form

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Cricket Correspondent at the Rose Bowl

IAN BELL returned to form with a half-century but Gary Ballance was harshly given out for 156 as England dominated the morning session against India here.

Along with Alastair Cook, Bell has been below his best this summer, at precisely the time when England needed him to become the leader of this inexperienced batting line-up.

Cook made 95 yesterday and, like the captain, Bell needed a slice of luck early in his innings. Had the Decision Review System been in place for this series, Bell would have been given out for a duck yesterday afternoon when he looked to be leg before to Pankaj Singh but was let off the hook by umpire Rod Tucker.

And just like Cook, who was dropped by England's nemesis Ravi Jadeja off the same bowler when he had made only 15, Bell was able to take advantage. On a pitch as easy for batting as this, a class player will usually cash in, especially if he is given the kind of reprieve Bell enjoyed.

How Ballance must have wished he could have been so fortunate. Having moved past 150 -- easily his highest Test score -- Ballance was judged to have been caught behind against the occasional off-spin of Rohit Sharma, but replays suggested he had not hit the ball.

Just after lunch, England were 362 for three, with Bell 71 not out and Joe Root unbeaten on three.

Bell and Ballance, who was 104 not out overnight, resumed this morning with the team 247 for two and neither man looked troubled during the fourth session of the match.

Bell had 16 when stumps were drawn yesterday and he quickly found fluency today.

Against the seam of Pankaj, Mohammed Shami and the subdued Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and the left-arm spin of Jadeja, Bell looked completely at ease, and moved to his 50 -- his third of the summer in Tests -- from 99 deliveries. It was a similar story for Ballance before his departure, which brought to an end a partnership of 142 with Bell, made from 245 deliveries.

Meanwhile, Cook has won the battle with Kevin Pietersen for the hearts of the English cricket public, according to the captain's former team-mate Steve Harmison. …

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