Alastair Cook and Ian Bell made composed half-centuries to guide England to a comfortable five-wicket victory over the West Indies in the first Test at Lord’s in London yesterday.
The hosts had crumbled to 57 for four chasing 191 for victory on a chilly morning, but Cook and Bell steadied the ship with a fifth-wicket partnership of 132.
Cook was out for 79 just before the end, but Bell and Jonny Bairstow steered England home, Bell clipping Marlon Samuels for four through mid-wicket to seal victory and finish on 63 not out.
After resuming on 10 for two, Jonathan Trott became Kemar Roach’s third victim of the innings when he nicked a rapid seaming delivery to Darren Sammy at slip, before Kevin Pietersen edged a catch to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin trying to pull a short ball from Shannon Gabriel.
That left the West Indies scenting an unlikely victory against the world’s top-ranked Test team.
The touring side have won only one of their past 18 Tests in England and they trailed the hosts by 155 runs on first innings, but a battling 345 second time around kept them in the Test match.
Cook and Bell displayed exemplary calmness in a tense atmosphere, rotating the strike neatly and hitting bad balls to the boundary to steer England to 131 for four at lunch.
Cook got to his half-century just before the interval with a late cut for four off spinner Samuels, the left-hander reaching the milestone off 78 balls having hit eight boundaries.
Bell passed his half-century for the second time in the match midway through the afternoon session and the pair strolled through the final overs picking up runs at will, before Cook was caught at gully by Kirk Edwards off Sammy with just two more runs required.
The second Test in the three-match series starts at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, on Friday.