Ian Bell and Alastair Cook gave England a sound start, in awkward circumstances, to the first NatWest Series match against Australia at Lord's.

England were put in under cloudy skies and floodlights, and then had to contend with a series of stoppages for rain. But their openers still managed to negotiate some well-directed new-ball bowling on the way to a hard-earned 64 without loss from 15 overs.

England's stop-start beginning, with three rain breaks in the first six overs, featured two close calls for Bell.

First, in the absence of any boundaries against the accuracy of Brett Lee and Clint McKay, he was fortunate there was no direct hit from Pat Cummins at mid-on as he scampered for a faulty single to double his score.

Then on three he walked off with Cook and the Australia fielders as the rain fell, unsure initially whether he would return as third umpire Marais Erasmus considered Bell's review of Richard Kettleborough's caught-behind decision.

He survived, having apparently made no contact with a delivery which jagged up the slope from McKay - but the England pair were back for just four balls this time before more heavy drizzle swept over Lord's.

There was still no boundary off the bat, until the fourth ball of the seventh over - teenage fast bowler Cummins' first - which Bell mis-pulled over the wicketkeeper's head.

It was Bell too who produced the first two fours of any authority, over extra-cover and down the ground from successive balls off McKay - and then Cook at last found the boundary too, with a square-drive at Cummins from the 25th delivery he faced.