Bell hits ton for England A

Last updated at 14:50 07 March 2005

Ian Bell drew on his Test match pedigree with a patient, unbeaten hundred as England A began the Sri Lanka leg of their tour with an encouraging 272 for four on day one of four against the hosts.

Bell, who made an accomplished 70 in his only Test opportunity so far - against West Indies at The Oval last September - dug in for a captain's innings today to put the tourists in a strong position against Sri Lanka A.

The Warwickshire batsman finished the day unbeaten on 128 and shared century stands with opener Alastair Cook (63) and Owais Shah (52).

Bell's team were put in first and left-arm seamer Nandika Ranjith claimed an early breakthrough with the wicket of Michael Powell, who was caught behind to make the score 10 for one.

But Bell and Cook stood firm until after lunch, the young Essex left-hander seizing his chance after his late call-up for this tour as a replacement for rising star Kevin Pietersen.

Ranjith eventually had Cook lbw but Bell, with the help of one-day international cap Shah, began to dominate in an innings which has so far lasted 269 balls and contained 11 fours and one six. Shah's was the first of two late wickets to fall.

He went lbw to leg-spinner Malinga Bandara, and then Surrey all-rounder Rikki Clarke departed cheaply to the bowling of Suraj Mohamed.

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