Canberra: Ian Bell’s sparkling tour Down Under continued on Monday as he scored an unbeaten century to guide England to a seven-wicket win over the Australian Prime Minister’s XI in a one-day match.
Chasing 223 to win in the rain-affected match, Bell blasted 13 fours and a towering six as he reached 124 from just 102 balls. He also scored a century in the final Ashes Test last week, which England won to beat Australia 3-1.
The PM’s XI traditionally gives fringe Australian players and promising youngsters a hit against a touring side. But while the home side batted well, their bowling attack appeared toothless in the face of the Bell onslaught.
Bell was given good support by Jonathan Trott (48) and Steve Davies (24), who helped England get away to a flying start at the top of the order.
PM’s XI captain Tim Paine – touted by some pundits as a future Australia captain – had won the toss and chose to bat. But a rain squall delayed the start of play in Canberra.
When play did get underway, the umpires reduced the overs to 44 for each team.
Paine and new Test number three Usman Khawaja got the home side away to a steady start, seeing off opening bowlers Chris Woakes and Ajmal Shahzad with little trouble.
However the onset of spin spelled the end for Khawaja, who hit a simple return catch off an inside edge to James Tredwell on 22.
Paine (50) was next to go, trapped leg before by Tredwell’s spin partner Michael Yardy, who removed promising all-rounder Alex Keath (15) in the same fashion.
Callum Ferguson and Daniel Christian then came together and scored briskly before Shahzad was brought back into the attack and bowled Ferguson for 39.
Tom Thornton (5) and Sam Miller (7) added little resistance until Shahzad had Christian caught by Kevin Pietersen for 53.
Some late hitting by veteran fast bowler Brett Lee allowed the PM’s XI to post a competitive total of 254.
Yardy was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-33 from his nine overs, while Shahzad claimed 3-61 and Woakes 2-63.
Bell and Davies came out blazing, scoring at more than eight runs an over until Davies miscued a drive and was caught by Ferguson at mid-on from the bowling of discarded Test spinner Xavier Doherty.
That brought fellow Sydney Ashes centurion Trott to the crease and he provided solid support to Bell, who continued to treat the bowling with contempt.
Another rain delay saw the overs decreased to 35 and the target to 223 under the Duckworth-Lewis method. But the English batsmen were undaunted, Bell and Trott adding 98 runs before Doherty had Trott caught behind off a fine edge.
Pietersen made a breezy 13 until he was trapped lbw by Lee, but Bell saw the tourists home, smashing Christian over mid-off for his 13th boundary to secure the win.