Sri Lanka A v England A, 1st Test, Colombo, 1st day
Bell rings up ton to set alarms ringing for Sri Lanka A
The Bulletin by Charlie Austin
March 7, 2005
England A 272 for 4 (Bell 128*, Cook 63, Shah 52) v Sri Lanka A
Ian Bell dominated the opening day of England A's unofficial two-Test series against Sri Lanka A with a chanceless 128 not out, a marathon innings that was characteristically workmanlike and patient on what was a baking hot day at the Colombo Cricket Club, leading his team to 272 for 4 at stumps.
Bell, England A's captain, added 116 in the first half of the day with Alastair Cook (63) and then 117 during the afternoon with Owais Shah (52), blunting a Sri Lankan bowling attack weakened by a spate of injuries during the last couple of weeks and frustrated by a hard, flat batting pitch.
Nandika Ranjith, a 30-year-old left-armer, was the most successful bowler on a generally unsuccessful day for bowlers. He found the outside edge of Michael Powell (7) with the new ball and then returned after lunch to trap Cook lbw. But Mohamed Suraj, a young offspinner, was the most threatening bowler.
Sri Lanka's spinners, Suraj and Malinga Bandara, a legspinner that has pulled himself back into international contention, pulled back some of England's initiative just before the close with two quick wickets. Shah was trapped lbw playing across a straighter ball and Rikki Clarke (4) was snapped up at forward short leg.
The England A squad arrived in Colombo on the weekend after cruising to a 4-0 series win against the UAE in Sharjah. They had expected a sterner examination in Sri Lanka, but thus far they've continued their successful run.