x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Ian Bell backs England to overcome their spin woes

The English batsmen says they have to work hard to improve on the subcontinent.

Ian Bell, right, has struggled with the bat for England in the UAE.
Ian Bell, right, has struggled with the bat for England in the UAE.

DUBAI // Ian Bell acknowledges England's failure with the bat in the UAE is part of a deeper problem for the team when playing on subcontinental pitches.

England have not won a Test series against any of the big three Asian teams - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - in Asia for a decade and head into Friday's third and final Test at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where the pitch soil has been imported from Lahore, reeling from being bowled out for 72 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, their lowest ever total in a Test against Pakistan.

"If you look at English cricket history we've never played great cricket in the subcontinent," Bell said. "We've started to play very well everywhere else in the world and this is the last little bit of hurdle that we need to get over.

"We are working as hard as ever, we are looking at areas that we can improve mentally and technically. There's no doubt, we are all hungry enough."

Bell has scores of 0, 4, 29 and 3 in the four innings and he accepted the batting unit need to improve their technique against spin with away matches in Sri Lanka and India on the horizon.

"There's a lot of cricket in the subcontinent coming up and if you want to stay No 1 in the world then we have to improve and get some runs because our bowlers have been fantastic out here - taking 20 wickets - so its up to the batting unit to give them support," Bell said.

Along with Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, Bell is part of a middle order who have mustered 94 runs in the two Tests.

"I'm desperate as ever to get some big runs in this last Test," Bell said. "We are all preparing and training as hard as possible to make sure we get it right in the third [Test]."

The elegant right-hander has fallen to the off-spinner Saeed Ajmal three times in the series. Ajmal was joined in the Test bowlers' world top 10 rankings this week by Abdur Rehman who took a career-best six for 25 to help skittle England for 72 in the second innings at Abu Dhabi.

"It's good, a very good feeling and now I am in top 10 and it is after a long time that two Pakistani spinners have come in the rankings, so I am happy that I am among those bowlers who are world's best," Rehman said.

The spinners have bamboozled England, claiming 29 wickets between them from the matches at Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

"We support each other so much that we always think that anyone can get a wicket," Rehman said yesterday. "We have nothing like that he will get wicket and I will be left out, we support each other so much that there comes nothing in our heart, we always think that anyone gets wickets it should be helpful for the team."

Mohammad Hafeez has also proved a useful foil, taking five wickets, meaning England have lost 34 of 40 wickets to slow bowlers in the series.

"When you're playing quality spin, it's important to stay there for a period of time," Bell said. "You lose two to three wickets in periods and then you go quite flat, that's what we've been caught into. I think we found it particularly hard to start our innings. It's been really tough. We know over here and especially in the subcontinent the hardest part is starting your innings.

"Unfortunately none of us in this series have got past those first 20-25 deliveries. Generally things get a little bit easier the longer you are there, unfortunately I've got some balls early in my innings that have got me out."

Rehman believes England batsmen have struggled because of Pakistan's game plan.

"What we are trying is to give them a tough time, contain them so that they make mistakes," Rehman said. "That was the game plan of the captain and the coach, so they made mistakes after getting fed up."

Pakistan will be looking for their first ever clean sweep against Englandwhen the third Test begins on Friday, a result few would have predicted with England having trouncedAustralia and Indiain the previous 12 months.

"No, its not surprising," countered Rehman. "We have won because we have worked really hard before the series and in the two Test matches. We had no idea that it would finish in three or four days, but since the team did well and the pitches helped us so we won."