Ian Bell insists England are focused on their own game in spite of the fuss around Muttiah Muralitharan’s quest to break the Test wicket record.
The Sri Lanka spinner took four wickets to equal Shane Warne’s mark of 708 to leave England 186-6, two adrift of Sri Lanka’s 188, with Bell hitting 83, here on Sunday. “We haven’t talked about it at all in the dressing room,” said Bell. “It’s important we build partnerships and get a decent lead so we can attack with the new ball when it comes,” he added.
England resumed on 49-1 and Bell and skipper Michael Vaughan put on 107 to lay the foundations for a formidable first-innings lead. But Muralitharan claimed four quick wickets — Vaughan (31), Bell, Kevin Pietersen (31) and Ravi Bopara (8) — in a devastating spell to derail England before rain brought an early halt in Kandy.
Bell, though, insists England are still in a good position. “In Sri Lanka, and certainly on the sub-continent, session by session is so important. You don’t want to lose too many sessions too badly and I’m certain I’d rather be in our dressing room than Sri Lanka’s at the minute.
“If we can get the sort of start we did in the first innings it’s going to give us a great opportunity of winning this Test match,” he added. The task of building England’s lead will revolve around Paul Collingwood (14 not out) and Ryan Sidebottom (1 not out) on day three but Bell says the visitors must not be afraid of Muralitharan.
“Obviously, Murali is a world-class bowler and it’s always going to be hard for new guys going in there and facing him from ball one,” said Bell. “He’s going to bowl a lot of overs against us and he’s going to take a lot of wickets but the important thing is that we make him work very hard for those wickets.
“It’s important when you play any world-class spinner to look to rotate the strike and look to be positive. I’m sure any spinner doesn’t like batters that are quick on their feet and who show that they’re going to come at them a bit.
“As long as everyone has got a game plan and they stick to that I’m sure well be fine in the morning,” he added. Sri Lanka’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss said the team was disappointed the record did not come Muralitharan’s way on Sunday.
“It was disappointing for all that the rain came but I am sure Murali will get there soon, so we are just trying to focus on the team’s performance” said Bayliss. “We knew if we kept getting wickets we would be back in the Test. Hopefully we will keep England down and match them in the second innings.
“Two days down, I think it is 50-50. Like I said, it all depends on how we bat the second time because anything over 150-200 will be difficult for England to chase in the fourth innings,” he added.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:england, England in Sri Lanka 2007, Ian Bell, Mahela Jayawardene, Michael Vaughan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Paul Collingwood, Sri Lanka
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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