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Bell stars in England win

Ian Bell, after his century, on Saturday

Southampton: Ian Bell answered his doubters with a superb hundred as England crushed West Indies in a rain-affected first one-day International at the Rose Bowl.

Bell, recalled to open the batting after Kevin Pietersen’s retirement, struck 126 in England’s 288-6.

Dwayne Smith blazed 56 off 44 balls to kick-start the Windies’ run chase.

But a flurry of wickets either side of a rain delay settled things as England bowled out the tourists for 172 to claim a 114-run Duckworth-Lewis win.

The decision to bring back Bell as an opener raised a few eyebrows given his modest record of just one century in 108 one-day innings and a strike rate in the mid-70s.

But after the early loss of captain Alastair Cook, he led from the front with a supremely confident innings that could mark the turning point of his one-day career.

Passed fit on the morning of the match after receiving 10 stitches to a chin wound suffered in the nets, Bell scored 12 fours and a six in a 117-ball knock founded on impeccable shot selection and timing.

And by the time he succumbed to a Dwayne Bravo slower ball in the 40th over, England were well on their way to a healthy total.

Such an outcome looked unlikely after the Windies won the toss on a cold, breezy day and Ravi Rampaul had Cook caught behind off the third ball of the day.

Had Trott been given out to a marginal lbw appeal two balls later, the innings could have taken on a very different complexion.

Instead, with Trott providing solid support, Bell set about carrying the fight to the opposition, choosing the sixth over of the innings to launch a calculated assault on paceman Andre Russell.

He smashed a length delivery back over the bowler's head for six, then struck three fours off the next four balls via a cut, pull and cover drive.

Trott made 42 with only three boundaries before he edged an attempted cut off Sunil Narine into Denesh Ramdin’s gloves.

Ravi Bopara fell in similar fashion for eight to the occasional off-spin of Marlon Samuels, and Eoin Morgan played on to the same bowler after a breezy 21 in which he appeared to have abandoned his trademark bobbing trigger movement in favour a stiller stance. (agencies)