India v England: Ian Bell century fails to prevent tourists loss in Delhi
India v England: Ian Bell's century fails to help Alastair Cook's men avoid defeat by Delhi XI in their final ODI warm-up match
An Ian Bell century was not enough for England as they lost their second warm-up match by six wickets, failing to defend 294 against Delhi XI at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
Bell, once again, looked in fantastic touch scoring 108 off 125 balls before falling lbw to the left-arm spin of Varun Sood.
England’s batsmen provided a decent platform for the bowlers, blasting 294-5 in their 50 overs, with the Warwickshire batsman being ably supported by Eoin Morgan (52) before Craig Kieswetter’s 27-ball cameo 41 took the tourists to a competitive total.
The batting performance was pleasing particularly after Sunday’s capitulation versus India A that saw England fall from 72-6 to 175 all out, with only Bell firing 91.
But England’s bowlers hardly threatened, managing just four wickets, as Delhi reached their target with nine balls remaining as Shikhar Dhawan reminded national selectors of his abilities as they seek a replacement for Virender Sehwag.
The Indian veteran has been dropped from the one-day international squad after a disappointing series against Pakistan where he struggled against the in-swing of left-arm quick Junaid Khan.
Promising Test star Cheteshwar Pujara has been called up to the squad for the first three ODIs against England starting in Rajkot – the 24-year-old’s home city – on Friday.
Pujara put England to the sword during the Test series looking formidable as he hit 206 not out and 135 in successive matches.
The youngster’s selection will only add to England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles’ woes as he suffered a second consecutive loss in charge.
And although the batsmen showed marked improvement against Delhi, Giles will be concerned about how to add more bite to a bowling attack that is clearly missing rested pair James Anderson and Graeme Swann.
Heavy responsibility was placed on the young shoulders of Steven Finn to carry an attack that contained just 35 ODI appearances between Chris Woakes, Jade Dernbach, James Tredwell and Stuart Meaker.
It is difficult to see how England will trouble India’s batsmen who have a wealth of experience playing on the flat tracks of sub-continent so close to the start of the series.
On a more positive note, Alastair Cook returned to the side after missing Sunday’s match with a heavy cold, providing England’s inexperienced batting line-up with some much-needed expertise.
Captain Cook and Bell carried the visitors to 70, before medium-pacer Sumit Narwal bowled the left-hander for 44.
But England’s young guns will know they will have to show considerably more ability if they are to trouble India come Friday.