Patience is the key for Ian Bell

Batsman hopes team will get crucial wicket of Chanderpaul early on day four of the first Test.

An extra week of preparation in county cricket helped Ian Bell.
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Ian Bell believes weeks of hard work are starting to pay off after his gritty 61 helped to put England in control of the first Investec Test against West Indies at Lord's yesterday.

A miserable winter tour of the UAE and Sri Lanka saw Bell scarcely register a score of note, but he has played himself back into form with his county, Warwickshire.

He also put his hand up to be selected for the England Lions' clash with West Indies a week ago, and he is sure that time in the middle has helped him to return to form in the international game.

Bell batted with the England tail all morning before he was the last man out at 398, and he told Sky Sports: "It was nice to make a contribution that helped us to get a 150-run lead. It felt very good.

"Early in the English season you want to be careful driving the ball, and I wanted to be as patient as possible and let the bowling come to me. I think I got that rhythm at Warwickshire and I was able to be patient today."

On proving his appetite for run-scoring by playing for the Lions, he added: "It was a nice opportunity. We had a week off at Warwickshire and I felt like I'd got myself into good form and it was an opportunity for me to see West Indies' attack. I gave myself that extra preparation and it helped a lot. I prefer spending time in the middle and that's what I got."

England will return to the field today with a 35-run advantage, with their opponents on 120 for four.

One obvious problem is the presence at the crease of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, one of the most obdurate batsmen on the Test circuit. He denied England his wicket with an 87 not out first time around, is unbeaten on 34, and Bell knows snaring him is crucial.

He said: "You expect a flat pitch at Lord's and we know we have to work hard here to get 20 wickets.

"If we can get Chanderpaul in the morning, we're into their all-rounders and their bowlers.

Shannon Gabriel, the West Indies bowler who took 3-60 on his Test debut, was hopeful the match can be saved.

"In Shiv [Chanderpaul] and and [Marlon] Samuels we've got two experienced players," he said. "Hopefully they can bat for as long as possible and get us into a better position. I back our bowlers to do a job tomorrow. It was special to get my first Test wicket. Obviously I bowled yesterday and didn't get one so I was thinking when is it going to come?"

A defeat inside three days loomed when the West Indies lost three wickets without scoring a run in a calamitous nine-ball spell before tea to slump to 36 for three, but they fought back.

* Agencies