Alastair Cook and Ian Bell Lead England to Victory over the West Indies

Will TurnerContributor IMay 22, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 18:  England batsman Alastair Cook picks up some runs during day two of the 1st Test match between England and West Indies at Lord's Cricket Ground on May 18, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Half centuries from Alastair Cook and Ian Bell wrapped up a five-wicket win for England in the summer’s first Test match at Lord’s against the West Indies.

Cook's 79 and Bell' 59 not out took England to the target after a tricky morning on day five.

The left-handed opener fell with just two more runs required, leaving Bell and debutant Jonny Baitstow to see their side home comfortably.

However, the ease at which England passed the set target in no way told the story of a nervy morning on day five at Lords.

Kemar Roach continued his assault on the England line up, removing Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen in quick succession and reducing England to 57-4.

The mood around the ground was a strange mix of nerves and excitement as the underdogs looked to be mounting a late charge to win the contest they had been unfairly ruled out of in its build up.

England were largely expected to dominate proceedings, but from the off there were signs that this wouldn’t be the case. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was at his defensive best while others contributed around him.

Six wickets from Stuart Broad on day one did put the hosts well on top, but the signs were there that the West Indies would not be rolling over.

Andrew Strauss’ long-overdue hundred on day two put his side firmly in the driving seat on a day they totally dominated, but the West Indies' fightback over days three and four was incredibly refreshing.

England sat pretty overnight on 259-3, but the response from the Windies' pace attack saw the hosts fail to capitalise on their good work on day two as they ended their first innings 398 all out.

Early wickets looked to have hampered their morning showing on day three, but soon Chanderpaul, sticky as ever, found an equally dogged partner in Marlon Samuels.

The pair were unbeaten overnight and went on to dominate the fourth day with a tenacious 157-run partnership which not only took the West Indies into a lead but comfortably past England.

Dinesh Ramdin kept up the pressure, his 43 alongside the tail left England needing 191 for victory. A manageable target it seemed, but a tricky 8-over spell before the close on day four had England reeling.

Roach first removed captain Strauss and then night-watchman James Anderson to set up a nervy final day.

The nerves jangled even more when Roach returned on the fifth morning, firstly having Trott caught at slip and then Pietersen bottom edged through to Ramdin and, at 57-4, alarm bells were well and truly ringing.

However Alastair Cook and Ian Bell came together and played the required innings, initially watchful but then quick to put their foot down and move towards the target once they were settled at the crease.

The pair's 100 partnership came up after lunch, and Bell soon joined Cook in bringing up his half century with the finish line in sight.

Cook was caught cutting with just two needed, bringing Bairstow to the crease, but it was Bell who struck the winning runs to give England a 1-0 series lead.