By Rob Barnett
The 23-year-olds shared 67 before heavy rain followed by a wet outfield left the hosts 237 for six at stumps, 85 ahead on first innings.
India this morning fought back with three wickets in an hour as seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Varun Aaron excelled.
They ousted nightwatchman Chris Jordan, Bell for 58 and Moeen Ali to leave the game in the balance.
But Root and Buttler mixed caution and adventure to keep England on top in the Test and therefore the series, which stands at 1-1 with just the Kia Oval contest to come after this one.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Bell said: “I’d certainly rather be on our side at the minute. Tomorrow’s a big morning. If we bat well, we can really put ourselves in a strong position.”
Root and Buttler will resume on 48 and 22 respectively, targeting a team total that will put the match beyond India.
“We’re in a good place in the game. Hopefully we can really extend that tomorrow,” Bell added.
“Joe Root and Jos Buttler at the end there got us right back on track and a few more tomorrow, maybe a 150 lead, would put us in a great position.”
Bell could add only 13 to his overnight score as Bhuvneshwar and Aaron capitalised on more overcast morning conditions.
“It was a shame not to kick on again today,” reflected Bell, who edged the former bowler behind.
“The first hour we knew was important in this Test match and the conditions helped India. Gradually as the session went on it was a bit easier.”
Bell shared his disappointment that just 36 overs were possible today.
An hour and a half of early-afternoon rain left much of the outfield under water, but it was two areas by the boundary at the Brian Statham End that could not be dried out and the prospect of a resumption was eventually abandoned at 5.39pm.
“Forecast-wise, there’s going to be a bit of overcast (weather) I think all week,” Bell predicted. “I’d expect the ball to swing through the game.
“I think it’s been a brilliant cricket wicket so far. It’s a shame what’s happened this afternoon has halted the game, but it’s a really good cricket pitch.
“You have to work hard for your runs, but you can play your shots and there’s a little bit there for the bowlers, which is exactly what we want.”