Bell reprieved by India after controversial ‘run out’
Tea: Second Test, day three, Trent Bridge
Match score: England 254 for 3 (Bell 137*, Pietersen 63, Morgan 21*) and 221 (Broad 64); India 288 (Dravid 117, Yuvraj Singh 62, Laxman 54, Broad 6 for 46) Full scorecard
Session score: England 124-1 England win session
Extraordinary. Ian Bell was adjudged run out for 137 in highly controversial circumstances from the last ball before tea, but then reinstated by Indian captain MS Dhoni in a remarkable incident during the interval. This series simply continues to amaze.
India’s players were booed off the field when umpires Asad Rauf and Marais Erasmus upheld the appeal (via TV umpire Billy Bowden’s confirmation) as Bell and Eoin Morgan were waiting by the pavilion gate – having mistakenly believed that Morgan’s leg glance off Ishant Sharma had gone for four as Praveen Kumar got into a tangle on the boundary edge.
Kumar himself clearly believed the ball had hit the rope, but when his teammates urged him to throw it in he got up off the turf and Dhoni, having taken the throw, tossed the ball to short leg fielder Abhinav Mukund to complete the run out.
England captain Andrew Strauss, with his players on the dressing room balcony to applaud Bell from the field at the interval for his quite outstanding innings, shook his head in clear distaste at India’s actions. But they were perfectly entitled to do what they did, and Bell should have stayed in his ground until the umpires had signalled the four – or kept running, in case the ball had not gone dead.
With the full house crowd booing India’s players, and the umpires, when they returned to the field after the tea break, jeers suddenly turned to cheers – and a prolonged standing ovation – when Bell then appeared alongside Morgan as England’s two batsmen trotted down the pavilion steps.
It was a remarkable gesture by India – and a glorious one – and if they had not done so it would have been a sad and dozy end to a brilliant innings because Bell has been England’s own ‘little master’ today as he and Kevin Pietersen took control of the second Test on a third day quite unlike everything that had gone before at Trent Bridge.
Bell’s 15th Test hundred, batting in the crucial No 3 position following Jonathan Trott’s shoulder injury, was perhaps his finest innings. Strokes flowed from his bat and not even Rahul Dravid, in his magnificent 117 yesterday, displayed such command – and at times even contempt for the bowlers – against seam and spin alike.
Such was Bell’s mastery, in batting conditions that had admittedly improved as the pitch slowed up in pace, that Pietersen’s share of a potentially match-deciding third wicket partnership of 162 in 36 overs was just 63. The 21 wickets that had fallen on the first two days were but a distant memory as the runs flowed.
Sensibly, and hopefully as a sign of his growing maturity, Pietersen was quite content to play a supporting role as Bell took the attack back to India right from the start of the third day. On nine overnight, Bell lost Andrew Strauss after a fluent opening 40 minutes when England’s captain edged Sri Sreesanth behind. But, from 57 for two – still ten runs behind – and with Trott expected to bat only in an emergency after an abortive net session before play, Bell and Pietersen delivered.
In his 67th Test, Bell has for too much of his career been the subject of criticism for not being able to ‘set the agenda’ at the crease. Too often, it has been said, he has only scored significant runs on the back of the success of others.
It was a criticism that Bell largely laid to rest during last winter’s Ashes series in Australia, but he only moved up to No 5 in England’s order, from No 6, when Paul Collingwood retired from Test cricket earlier this year. Now, given the chance to go in at No 3, he has underlined his class.
Pietersen was eventually out driving at Sreesanth, having faced 120 balls and hit seven fours. The day though – until the extraordinary incident on the stroke of tea – belonged solely to Bell.