Bell needs a big fourth Test after a stuttering series
England are looking to cement their first series win in India for 27 years and victory in the fourth Test would be the perfect way to round off a fantastic turnaround.
The Three Lions are slightly unfancied at 13/8 to wrap up a 3-1 win as the tour heads to Nagpur and, with the visitors firing on pretty much all cylinders, this looks an excellent price.
The only cause for English concern lies in the middle order, with Ian Bell struggling for runs on the sub-continent.
It’s been a turbulent trip for the Warwickshire man, who returned home to attend the birth of his child and subsequently missed the second Test. His quick-fire 28 not out included the winning runs at Eden Gardens, but this was his highest score of the tour, taking his total for the winter to 55 – hardly extravagant from four innings at the crease; Alastair Cook has churned out a monster 408 on the same pitches.
The skippers’ brilliance has had an adverse effect on Bell’s time out in the middle but two scores of five and zero point to the fact that he hasn’t done the job when England have needed him.
Dropping Bell on the back of two, frankly, incredible wins would be a rash move and the 30-year-old well-warrants the opportunity to put a score on the board in the fourth Test. Plus, it’s important to note that there is hardly a queue of people on hand to step into his number five spot.
Jonny Bairstow filled in for Bell in the second Test but, after managing just nine runs in England’s 10-wicket demolition job at the Wankhede Stadium, it’s fair to say he didn’t set the world alight, whereas bringing back Stuart Broad and moving Matt Prior up the order wouldn’t be a smart move either.
However, should Bell’s fortunes fail to improve in the final Test his place is sure to come under further scrutiny for upcoming games and his only other appearance in Nagpur does not bode well for him.
Batting at three he managed just 10 runs in a drawn match between the sides in 2005 and, although England will take a repeat of that result this time around, Bell needs to better his performance after some poor showings to date.
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