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Bell keeps England's cricket hopes alive
22:32 AEST Mon Jul 23 2012

Ian Bell batted doggedly as England set out to try to save the first Test against South Africa on the fifth and final day at the Oval on Monday.

Needing 252 to avoid an innings defeat, England reached 5-177 at lunch. Bell was on 36 not out after batting for 208 minutes, facing 166 balls.

The only wicket to fall was that of Ravi Bopara, who was bowled off an inside edge by Dale Steyn for 22 in the seventh over of the day.

Resuming at 4-102, England added 75 runs in 28 overs during the morning.

Steyn bowled an accurate spell at the start of the day but his wicket came off a short, wide ball, which Bopara tried to punch to the off side, only to get a thick inside edge which caused the ball to crash into his stumps.

Bell was dropped by stand-in wicketkeeper AB de Villiers off leg-spinner Imran Tahir when he was on 20, with De Villiers failing to hold a thin edge in Tahir's first over of the day, shortly before the morning drinks break.

Bell and Bopara put on 50 for the fifth wicket and Bell found another useful partner in Matt Prior (29 not out) as the pair added an unbeaten 60 for the sixth wicket.

South Africa took a first-innings lead of 252 on Sunday, declaring at 2-637 with Hashim Amla 311 not out.


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