Bell and Cook take up Pietersen challenge
by AFP

Ground:Old Trafford, Manchester
Scorecard:England v Pakistan
Player:AN Cook, IR Bell, KP Pietersen
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 29th July 2006


Ian Bell said he was delighted both he and Alastair Cook had been able to live up to Kevin Pietersen's rallying cry to England's junior players after the two young guns


both made hundreds in the second Test against Pakistan here at Old Trafford.


Cook (127) and Bell (106 not out) were the main contributors to England's first innings 461 for nine declared.


At stumps Pakistan, skittled out for 119 first time around, were 12 without loss in their second innings - still 330 runs behind.


Both Cook and Bell were making their second hundreds in as many Tests after they'd each reached three figures in the drawn series opener at Lord's.


It was an ideal response to the problem of a batting order missing Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan and star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.


Despite his Lord's century Bell was widely expected to be dropped for the second match of this four-Test series.


But Flintoff's failure to recover from an ankle injury gave the Warwickshire batsman another chance.


In the run-up to this match Pietersen, who himself has risen to star status during the past 12 months on the back of his exploits for his adopted country, said it was vital all the team turned in match-winning performances.


"I'm not really there to shoulder the responsibility of the whole England team - these blokes are all top class international players so it's not just up to me to shoulder the pressure," the South Africa-born batsman insisted.


"It's all about 11 blokes going out there and doing their best for England, not just for me to go out there and try and do well."


Bell, whose hundred Friday was his fourth Test century and third against Pakistan said his team-mate's comments were spot on.


"There's been some poor performances, some very good performances. We were without some big players, the Flintoffs, the Vaughans, and I think it is important then that when we get the opportunity as young players we do step up," the 24-year-old right-hander explained.


"I didn't take it in any bad way that he (Pietersen) said that. I think he pretty much talks a lot of sense and with a lot of honesty. That's what we've done, we've stepped up."


And the 21-year-old Cook, whose hundred was his third in seventh Tests, said the way in which the tail had hung around with Bell was vital to England's cause as they built on fast bowler Stephen Harmison's first day six-wicket haul which ripped through Pakistan.


"It's crucial when you get the opposition 119 all out that you stick the knife in and build a big first innings total," the Essex left-hander added.


"It was great me and Belly scored the runs but it was a great team effort and Harmy, batting down the end, to put on 73 with Belly was important."


But, despite England's strong position, Bell insisted there was no complacency in their camp.


"There are some world class players in that side. If Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf get in, they can score big runs."


And England face a nervous time waiting on the fitness of Harmison, who sustained a side strain while bowling late Friday, as well as wicket-keeper Geraint Jones's right ring finger injury.


A team spokesman said both players would be re-assessed Saturday morning.


And with Flintoff, fellow Ashes-winner Simon Jones and back-up Test paceman James Anderson all sidelined, a major injury to Harmison especially would be the last thing England wanted.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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