Ian Bell opens with note of maturity for England

The Warwickshire batsman excelled with a century in the opener's role vacated by Kevin Pietersen's limited overs retirement.

Ian Bell believes he is a better player than the last time he opened for England.
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Alastair Cook paid tribute to Ian Bell after his second one-day international hundred helped England begin their three-game series against West Indies with a 114-run win on the Duckworth/Lewis method at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

The Warwickshire batsman excelled in the opener's role vacated by Kevin Pietersen's limited overs retirement, striking 12 fours and a six in his 126 to underpin England's 288 for six.

Bell has never managed to nail down a regular place in England's one-day side but Cook was full of praise for his fellow opener's efforts yesterday especially after Bell was in doubt following an injury to his chin in practice the day before.

"It was a really good performance from the lads and Ian at the top of the order was fantastic, especially under cloudy conditions to start with," Cook told Sky Sports 1.

"Him and Trotty [Jonathan Trott] played really well and 288, I think we would have taken that at the toss. We've had to move on from KP but what a great performance from Ian at the top of the order. Fantastic knock and when you get close to 300 in any ground, it's hard to chase."

Bell hopes he can use yesterday's innings as a springboard to greater things in one-day internationals.

"I really enjoyed it and it was nice to go out there and play some shots at the top of the order," he said.

"I thought if I could play like I had done in the Test series, fingers crossed I could make some runs.

"Hopefully I can have more days like this in the future. I believe I'm a better player now than I was the last time I was at the top of the order with England.

"I've enjoyed the success with the Test matches so hopefully I can take that confidence into one-day cricket now."

Captain Cook acknowledged that England could have made over 300 when batting, but was happy with the way they clinically closed out the match, restricting the West Indies to 172 all out.

The West Indies returned from an hour-long rain break, with a revised target of 287 in 25 overs still available - and after Marlon Samuels fell to a chip to midwicket, their miserable day was soon complete as they lost their last nine wickets for 77 runs.

Dwayne Smith struck 56 off just 44 balls to help the West Indies make a fine start but he was caught behind off Tim Bresnan - who was the pick of the bowlers with four for 34 - and their challenge subsided soon after.

"If we're being harsh on ourselves, we probably could have got closer to 300 and over 300 but that's being highly critical," Cook said.

"At the top, Smith played really well and got them off to a flyer but I thought the way we held our nerve and came back … that changed the game for us."

Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, was also quick to hail Bell's knock and acknowledged his side were thoroughly outplayed by England.

"We didn't get the runs," Sammy said. "We had a good start when Smith and [Denesh] Ramdin gave us a solid platform but we kind of lost our way.

"It was pretty good wicket and Ian Bell played a very good innings but we backed ourselves to chase down the runs.

"But we didn't have enough partnerships and like Bell went on, no one went on for us."

The tourists' charge was hindered after the destructive opener Chris Gayle was forced to miss the match with a shin injury while Sammy revealed Darren Bravo was suffering with a groin complaint, but the captain is optimistic both players will be fit for the next match at the Kia Oval on Tuesday.

"Hopefully we can have everyone on deck for Tuesday," Sammy added.

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