By Dave Clark
Ian Bell was delighted to have helped put England in a strong position in the third Investec Test against India as he continued his love of batting at the Ageas Bowl today.
The 32-year-old passed 7,000 Test runs as he scored his 21st Test century and fourth international ton on this ground as England declared on 569 for seven.
James Anderson then dismissed Shikhar Dhawan as the visitors, who lead the series 1-0 following a 95-run win at Lord’s, were reduced to 25 for one at stumps on day two.
“It’s a great place to come and bat,” said Bell, who unfurled a string of pleasing shots through the off side in his innings of 167.
“You’ve got a fast outfield and a wicket that probably has as much pace and bounce in it as any in the country so it’s nice, you can play your shots and let the ball come on.
“It’s nice to contribute with a big hundred, which is good. Gary Ballance again was exceptional today, carrying on from yesterday. It was really nice and Jos Buttler finished it off in style which is exactly what we wanted.
“Jimmy Anderson was outstanding with the ball – all the bowlers were – so it’s set up really nicely for tomorrow for us.
“It would have been nice to get two, but to start off with it was great and hopefully we can do the same tomorrow. There was plenty of swing going on and the pace was good from the bowlers as well.”
England resumed on 247 for two and Ballance reached his first Test 150 before lunch, falling six runs later to the part-time off-spin of Rohit Sharma after a vigilant innings which included several powerful cuts and some delightful flicks to the midwicket boundary.
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Buttler survived a referred catch before getting off the mark, but then smashed a series of boundaries around the ground – making 85 from just 83 deliveries.
And Bell believes both have big international futures – praising Ballance after the left-hander’s third century in his fledgling five-Test career.
“He knows his game inside out, which is great for a young player,” Bell added.
“He leaves very well, plays a lovely cut shot and clips it off the pads as well so he’s very hard to bowl at. He’s cool, calm at the top of the order, which is what you want.”