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Bell says England plan to make life tough for Oz

Bell said England have not completely given up hope of saving the first Test after Australia decided not to enforce the follow-on.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2006 15:29 IST

Batsman Ian Bell said England have not completely given up hope of saving the first Ashes test after Australia decided not to enforce the follow-on.

Bell said he expected Australia would send the tourists back in after they collapsed to 157 all out before tea on the third day at the Gabba.

But Ricky Ponting had other ideas and opted to let Australia bat again and build up a 626 lead by the close of play on Saturday and Bell said the decision had given the English a glimmer of hope.

"I was a little surprised but that wasn't really in our control what Australia do," Bell told a news conference.

"If anything it gave our bowlers another opportunity and get some bowling and obviously it takes the game further along.

"There's still a lot of cricket to be played but we're going to have to bat really well to get anywhere near saving this game."

Bell almost missed the series opener after injuring his wrist in practice but underlined his importance to the team by playing a virtual lone hand with the bat in Brisbane.

The 24-year-old from Warwickshire survived a torrid battle with Australia's bowlers to top score with 50, more than double the contributions of any of his team mates.

"It's always going to be a battle out there against Australia, especially when their tails are up," he said.

"But I enjoyed being out there. I was disappointed to get to 50 and then get out. There's no point getting 50 here, you have to get a hundred."

Bell said cracks were starting to open up on the pitch ensuring England would have a tough job saving the game when Austalia eventually declare and send them back in on Sunday.

"We're going to have to bat outstandingly well to save this game," Bell said.

"But we've been through days pretty much like this before. It's a matter of staying together as a team.

"The next game will be completely different game and tomorrow is a another day.

"Obviously it's been a hard three days. But we're all still together, we'll still fight together and we'll keep working hard."

First Published: Nov 26, 2006 03:47 IST