Shamik Das

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bell rings in the new year

Ian Bell top scores for England with a gutsy fifty on day one at Sydney

Sydney, Fifth Test, First Day:
England 234/4 (Bell 71; McGrath 2-57) v Australia

Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen shared a century stand to rescue England on day one of the final Test, coming together at 58 for 2 and griniding out the runs on an uninspiring day at the SCG.

England had again got off on the wrong foot - Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook once more failing to give them a flying start - their ninth consecutive sub-fifty opening stand.

Aside from Bell's half-century Pietersen (41) and Andrew Flintoff, unbeaten on 42, contibuted to the cause once play finally got under way over an hour late; indeed all the England batsmen got themselves in, with all bar Bell failing to kick-on past fifty.

Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Justin Langer line up for the last time in a Test

And what of the three retirees? Glen McGrath bagged two key wickets in five balls - Pietersen and then Bell - while Shane Warne sent down 19 wicketless overs and Justin Langer dropped a catch!

But with the new ball due first thing in the morning England may well end up getting cleaned out for less than 300 ...

Catch the first day's highlights tonight on BBC Two at 11:20, and listen to live coverage of day two on Radio 4 198LW and the BBC Sport website from 11:15 - 15 minutes early.


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