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Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 18:12 UK

Bell ton helps ease Bears fears

CLOSE OF PLAY, DAY TWO: Sussex 254, Warwickshire 302-5
(Warwicks 6pts, Sussex 3pts)
9-12 September 2009

Ian Bell
Ian Bell hit his fourth County Championshp century of the season

Ian Bell hit a century as Warwickshire rallied well at Hove to play themselves into a match-winning position against relegation rivals Sussex.

Starting day two on 15-2 in pursuit of Sussex's 254, the Bears lost just three wickets all day to close on 302-5.

Bell led the way with a patient 104 from 210 balls, sharing partnerships of 110 with skipper Ian Westwood, who hit 57, and 92 with Jonathan Trott (56).

Tim Ambrose (40) and Jim Troughton (28) were still there at the close.

Sussex plugged away on a sluggish pitch, surprisingly offering only slow turn given the spinners' success on the first day. But they just took one wicket in each session.

Bell, who hit a stunning century in the Pro40 on Sunday, was seldom at his fluent best back in his whites, scoring just 23 runs in 19 overs either side of lunch.

But he picked up the pace again thereafter to reach the 27th first-class hundred of his career with a handsome back-foot cover drive off Ollie Rayner.

He had reached 104 when he lost concentration in the last over before tea, driving Piyush Chawla to be taken at slip.

He had shared in a stand of 110 with Westwood for the third wicket as Warwickshire recovered steadily from the loss of two wickets in successive overs late on the first day.

Westwood had a reprieve on 44 when he edged Chawla to slip, where Mike Yardy failed to hang on. But the Bears captain passed 50 for the third successive Championship innings before departing in the last over before lunch, lbw to Dwayne Smith attempting to work a full-length ball to midwicket.

Inevitably, it was Indian leg-spinner Chawla and off-spinner Rayner who did the bulk of the bowling. But it was not until the 29th over, and well into his third spell, that Chawla finally broke through with the wicket of Bell.

Trott - who has scored four hundreds against Sussex, including 166 at Edgbaston in July - looked to be setting himself for a long vigil. But, after being dropped at slip, an attempted sweep gave the persevering Chawla a second wicket.

Warwickshire still trailed by 15 runs at that stage. But an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 63 between Troughton and Ambrose reasserted their authority - and created the platform for a decent, potentially match-winning first-innings lead.

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