ENGLAND batsman Ian Bell admitted he was fortunate to have been reinstated after a controversial run out, instigated by his own “stupidity”, largely overshadowed a brilliant match-turning century.
Promoted to No3, a position he had struggled to assert himself in previously, Bell took the game away from India with an innings that belied the delicately poised nature of the contest.
But the importance and elegance of his innings, a 15th in Tests and first against India, was almost lost amid a backdrop of confusion that surrounded his apparent dismissal just before the tea interval.
Bell, wrongly thinking Eoin Morgan had struck a boundary, jogged down to the non-strikers end and in the direction of the pavilion. But with the ball not dead, India were within their rights to effect a run out.
“It was the right decision for the spirit of the game. It was very naive of me to assume the ball was dead,” said Bell, who re-emerged after the break once coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss had approached India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who agreed to let the Warwickshire man return to the fray.
“I didn’t hear the umpire call ‘over’. To walk off for tea was stupid. I have learned a lot of lessons. I put my bat down after the third and it looked like we were just meandering off for tea.
“I didn’t know until the last minute that I would be going back out again but the way it’s been handled has been fantastic and in the spirit of the game.”
Rahul Dravid, one of India’s most senior batsmen, agreed that justice had been served, even if the decision to allow Bell back to the crease appeared to knock the stuffing out of his side.
He said: “It was the right thing to do. If that had happened to one of our guys we would have felt disappointed.
“The original decision was right in the laws of the game but not in the spirit of the game. Dhoni had a team meeting and there was unanimity in the decision.”
With doubts surrounding the availability of Jonathan Trott and England still 43 adrift of India’s first innings score, the tourists were in a position to ram home their advantage at the start of day three.
But thanks to Bell, who added just 22 runs after tea and was eventually dismissed for 159, along with half centurions Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior, England are now firmly in the ascendancy having scored 417 runs yesterday, their highest single day total since 1954.
More pertinently, Strauss’s men reached 441-6 by the close and hold a commanding lead of 374 with four second innings wickets remaining.
FLASHPOINT | BELL’S RUN OUT
Bell completes a third run, jogs towards Morgan believing the ball has gone for four and is therefore dead. Kumar has saved the boundary, however, throws the ball to Mukund, who breaks the stumps at the striker’s end. India appeal and confusion ensues.
Bell, upon reaching the boundary, reacts with shock and is clearly heard to say “He called over”. Third umpire Bowden confirms Bell's dismissal. On-field colleague Erasmus asks India if they wish to uphold the appeal before Bowden’s verdict is displayed on Trent Bridge’s big screen.
During the tea break Strauss and Flower ask Dhoni to reconsider the decision to uphold their appeal. India return to the playing arena to a chorus of boos. Those jeers are replaced almost immediately by cheers as Bell returns to the fray having been granted an extra life by Dhoni.