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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
England near win after Bell blast
Second Test, Chester-le-Street, day two (stumps): Bangladesh 104 & 297-8 v England 447-3d

Ian Bell

Ian Bell celebrated his maiden Test ton as England were on the verge of another big win despite Bangladesh showing some overdue fight on day two in Durham.

Bangladesh, needing 343 to make England bat again after the hosts had declared on 447-3, were 297-8 at stumps.

Fifties to Javed Omar, Habibul Bashar and Aftab Ahmed took the Tigers to their highest score against England.

Bell earlier hit 25 fours and a six in his 162 not out, 105 of which were scored in the first session.

Along with Graham Thorpe, whose 100th Test yielded an unbeaten 66, Bell bludgeoned the Bangladesh attack in the morning.

The fourth-wicket pair kept their partnership intact, carrying England from their overnight 269-3 with 178 runs scored at almost six runs per over.

Everything Bell did in the morning oozed style, even accounting for the wretchedness of the attack.

The Tigers were too short in the opening hour, inviting Bell, and Thorpe on occasion, to pull and hook for easy runs.

Javed Omar
Omar was one of three Tigers batsmen to make a fifty

The Warwickshire youngster was equally comfortable against the fuller-pitched ball, getting to triple figures with a clip through mid-wicket and later rolling his wrists in one Anwar Hossain over that he took for 10 runs.

There was no crest-kissing or elaborate celebration from England's latest Test centurion, just a gentle appreciation of the applause he richly deserved.

And there were more fireworks after the message came to step up the scoring ahead of the declaration.

Thorpe's 39th Test fifty came courtesy of a spanking pulled four, while Bell used a boundary to pass 150 and a six to take his session tally into three figures.

Bangladesh might have been expected to fold, but in a series marked by their feeble batting this was an improved effort.

An opening stand of 50 was a record for their first wicket against England, and so good by their standards that Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard (3-63) were rested after three overs each.

Omar rightly punished Harmison's poor line and length and was chiefly responsible for the paceman returning the unflattering figures of 1-77 from 15 overs.

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff struck at vital times to take three wickets

It took the introduction of Flintoff (3-56) to make the breakthrough, though there was some doubt as to whether keeper Geraint Jones had pouched the low-down chance off Nafees Iqbal without it first hitting the ground.

There was no doubt about Rajin Saleh's dismissal, caught in slip off Flintoff, and Gareth Batty was relieved to take his first Test wicket in England when Mohammad Ashraful was caught off a crude slog.

Bangladesh soon went from 101-3 to 125-4 when Harmison, finally rewarded for his short-pitched tactics, caught Omar's glove and had him caught behind for 71.

Omar's dismissal did nothing to dampen Bashar's resolve, and his 20th Test half-century - scored off just 37 balls - came up in one Simon Jones over that he casually took for 16.

It was Flintoff who again broke the shackles, trapping Bashar in front of his stumps for 63.

Hoggard returned to the attack to see off Mohammad Rafique and Hossain, allowing England an extra 30 minutes in which to go for only the fourth two-day finish in Test history.

Aftab had other ideas, hitting Flintoff for 10 in two balls and racing to his maiden Test fifty at better than a run-a-ball.

He finished unbeaten on 67, with Tapash Baisya keeping good company at the other end on 18.

England wanted a swift finish and all day skipper Michael Vaughan set his fields with that in mind.

In truth, his refusal to despatch a fielder to third-man gifted Bangladesh more runs than their efforts deserved.

But for those hankering for something resembling a contest in this series, the latter half of day two at Chester-le-Street provided it.

Interview: England's Ian Bell


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