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Series being played in the right spirit, says Ian Bell

Manchester: England batsman Ian Bell has urged the two teams to focus on the on-field play in the finely poised five-match series as the action shifts to the fourth Test, at Old Trafford, starting on Thursday.

Bell, who stroked a masterful 167 in the third Test at Southampton to help England make a comeback in the series with a 266-run win after the Lord’s loss, is looking forward to some exciting cricket. “At 1-1 in three Tests and two matches to go, this is a great series,” said Bell.

“This is the kind of series you want to be involved in. The fourth Test should be exciting too… Hopefully, it will be similar to the pitch we had in Southampton with a little more pace, which you do get here,” he added.

The series has been marred by the James Anderson-Ravindra Jadeja spat in the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge.

The ICC’s judicial commission had dropped charges against both players, although the BCCI is said to have asked the governing body to reconsider the verdict given out on August 1.

“Apart from this one incident, there hasn’t been any other incident on the field. I would even say that the chatter has been less than what we have in other series and it has been played in the right spirit.

“Even if things are said, it is a tough environment out there in the middle. It shouldn’t go past the line… Frankly, in this series apart from that incident that’s been talked about a lot, nothing has.

“The way Jimmy (Anderson) has handled it and got the Man of the Match award at Southampton with everything around the corner has been amazing. It is great that he has been able to put it aside. I am sure all other players will do the same and we would rather focus on a good series rather than talking about one incident that got blown out of proportion,” the batsman said.

England witnessed a turnaround at Ageas Bowl as they registered their first win in 11 matches. Skipper Alastair Cook also returned to form with two fifties and Gary Ballance got his second century of the series and shared a crucial partnership with Bell.

“It is definitely a weight off the shoulders but it is nothing to get carried away about. They were very good five days for us no doubt, but it is really important to back that up now in this fourth Test. One win isn’t going to change anything so it is important that we start well on Thursday and carry on,” said a cautious Bell.

“This past summer, some of us gave glimpses of playing well but we didn’t back it up. That was the good thing about Southampton that we did back it up on all five days, with both bat and ball. So it was pleasing and we have to do that again,” he added.