England v India, 3rd Test: Ian Bell hits ton as hosts dominate
Last Updated: 29/07/14 1:18pm
Ian Bell returned to form with a century as England declared on 569-7 to take control on day two of the third Test against India at the Ageas Bowl.
Bell had not made a Test century since last summer’s Ashes series but his brilliant 167 helped the hosts, who are 1-0 down in the five-match series, build a formidable first-innings total before reducing India to 25-1 at the close of play.
Overnight centurion Gary Ballance was removed for 156 shortly before lunch, while debutant Jos Buttler smashed 85 off 83 balls before his dismissal prompted England's declaration.
Bell, fortunate to survive on nought the previous evening when Pankaj Singh might easily have had him lbw, edged the tall seamer just past third slip for four early on Monday but otherwise showed few signs of shakiness.
In need of runs after his recent lean spell, he greeted the introduction of Ravindra Jadeja by skipping up the wicket to hit him over long-on for six, and soon afterwards reached a 99-ball fifty.
Ballance and Bell had looked set to occupy the crease together for several more hours as the former moved past the 150 mark with ease, at one point hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for three fours in four balls.
But the third-wicket stand between the duo ended in controversial circumstances on 142 when Ballance was given out caught behind off the bowling of Rohit Sharma.
Part-time spinner Sharma deceived the left-hander with some turn and umpire Rod Tucker raised his finger, although replays showed that the ball had missed the batsman's edge and instead deflected off his thigh into the hands of wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Joe Root (3) and Moeen Ali (12) were then both dismissed by Kumar during the afternoon session, but Buttler and Bell cut loose after tea.
Bell moved through the gears on his way to three figures, smacking Jadeja for two more sixes and two fours in a single over to accelerate England’s run rate.
Buttler also upped the scoring with a total of nine fours and three sixes, although he survived a close call when the third umpire ruled that Ajinkya Rahane’s catch in the slips had not been taken cleanly with the debutant still on a duck.
He made the most of that reprieve – as well as a dropped catch by Shikhar Dhawan and a missed stumping by Dhoni – to put on a spectacular display of big hitting.
Bell eventually holed out to mid-on off the bowling of Kumar (3-101) before Buttler dragged Jadeja onto his stumps, with skipper Alastair Cook waving the innings off immediately after the latter dismissal.
The declaration left India with 14 overs to survive before stumps and they failed to make it through unscathed as Dhawan departed for just six after edging James Anderson to Cook at first slip.