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Bell and Ballance put England in control

By Dave Clark

Huge centuries from Ian Bell and Gary Ballance, along with a lively debut cameo from Jos Buttler, saw England take complete control of the third Investec Test against India on day two at the Ageas Bowl.

The hosts reached 569 for seven before declaring, and James Anderson had Shikhar Dhawan caught at slip to reduce India to 25 for one – a deficit of 544 – before stumps.

Having fallen 1-0 down in the series with a 95-run defeat at Lord’s, Alastair Cook’s side now have a good chance to press on for a series-levelling victory over the next three days.

Alastair Cook catches Shikhar Dhawan at first slip as India slip to 25 for one in reply to England's 569 for seven

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.

Joe Root and Moeen Ali went cheaply to Bhuvneshwar Kumar after the lunch break, but Bell pressed on to 167 before hitting the same bowler to mid-off.

Bell’s innings was characterised by some glorious shots through the off side, and he reached three figures with one of two straight sixes off Ravindra Jadeja in an over that cost 21.

The 32-year-old’s knock also made him the fourth youngest English batsman to reach 7,000 runs in Test cricket, and this was the first time two England players have passed 150 in an innings since Bell and Kevin Pietersen did so against the same opponents at the Kia Oval in 2011.

Ian Bell brings up his 21st Test century with a straight six off Ravindra JadejaButtler survived a referred catch before getting off the mark, but then smashed a series of boundaries around the ground.

Consecutive flat-batted sixes off Pankaj Singh were the highlight for the Lancashire stumper, who made 85 from only 83 balls before playing on to Ravindra Jadeja, prompting England to declare midway through the evening session.

With 14 overs remaining in the day, Anderson’s decision to bowl around the wicket to Dhawan brought instant reward as the left-hander nicked one to Alastair Cook at first slip having made six.

Cheteshwar Pujara survived a big lbw appeal off the same bowler, but he and Murali Vijay made it through to stumps without further damage to the Indian cause.

Match scorecard / Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

Buttler cracked 85 as England declared on 569-7 before Anderson dismissed Dhawan before the close

6.24pm - STUMPS! Ind 25/1; Vijay 11, Pujara 4 - Chris Woakes poses a few problems with the last over of the day, but Vijay rides it out to ensure that India will resume tomorrow only one down, albeit trailing by 544.

6.19pm – Anderson goes around the wicket again, this time to the right-handed Pujara, and a big leg-before shout is turned down – presumably on height. The next ball sees an edge drop in front of the slips.

6.11pm – The first bowling change sees the recalled Chris Jordan replacing Broad, but he struggles to get his line right and concedes four byes down the leg side off the final ball.

5.54pm – Cheteshwar Pujara gets away with a bold leave second ball as Anderson’s delivery nips back and only just misses off stump. Next ball a soft edge drops short of the slip cordon.

5.50pm - WICKET! Dhawan c Cook b Anderson 6; Ind 17/1 -  Anderson comes around the wicket to Dhawan, catches the outside edge with one just short of a length, and Alastair Cook clings on at first slip.

5.36pm – Dhawan gets off the mark with a pleasing cover driven four off Anderson, while at the other end Stuart Broad works Vijay over with some short stuff.

5.26pm – England have 14 overs to get amongst the India batting line-up and, after Murali Vijay gets runs on the board with a four to third man, James Anderson beats Shikhar Dhawan all ends up to miss off stump by a fraction.

5.10pm – WICKET & END OF INNINGS! Buttler b Jadeja 85; Eng 569/7 declared – After a superb cameo innings, Buttler chops one on to his stumps and Alastair Cook calls in Chris Woakes, who made an unbeaten seven. England will be hoping to make inroads into the India top-order before stumps.

5.05pm – Buttler seems to be getting the hang of this Test cricket lark, flat-batting consecutive sixes off Pankaj to bring up the 550.

5pm - CHANCE! – Buttler gives Jadeja the charge, has a swing and a miss, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni fumbles the stumping chance. To add insult to injury, Buttler dispatches the next ball to the boundary.

4.49pm - WICKET! Bell c Pankaj b Bhuvneshwar 167; WI 526/6 – The Ageas Bowl crowd are on their feet, and rightly so as Bell attempts one shot too many and skies the ball to Pankaj at mid-off. A sublime innings, although worth remembering that he was lucky to survive an lbw appeal last night before getting off the mark.

4.48pm - FIFTY! Buttler (64b 4x4 1x6) – A debut fifty for Buttler, who has provided useful impetus to this England innings.

4.45pm - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP! – Bell pushes a single down the ground, and these two have added 100 for the sixth wicket from just 132 balls. Buttler drives Jadeja’s next ball for four through the covers.

4.39pm – A declaration may be imminent, with Bell slogging Pankaj Singh for four and pulling Mohammed Shami to the boundary, and Buttler smashing Jadeja for six and before another reverse sweep. England have gone past 500.

4.32pm - 150! Bell (241b 17x4 3x6) – A swept four off Jadeja, and a few quick singles take Bell to 150. Last time two England players scored 150 in the same innings was, coincidently, on India’s last tour in 2011 at the Kia Oval. Bell and Kevin Pietersen were the destroyers in chief on that occasion. At the other end Jos Buttler has reverse swept Jadeja for four.

4.19pm - CHANCE! – Ian Bell clips Mohammed Shami off his hips for three to bring up the fifty partnership, but two balls later Buttler gets another life as he edges to first slip where Shikhar Dhawan spills it.

4.11pm – Even with a sweeper back on the boundary, Buttler has the power to cut Pankaj Singh away for four.

4.01pm – The covers made an appearance during the tea interval, but no rain fell so we’re underway again on time. Ravindra Jadeja is first up with the ball, and Jos Buttler sweeps him away for a couple.

Afternoon Session

Ian Bell went to a wonderful hundred as England piled on the runs during the afternoon session on day 2

3.40pm – TEA! Eng 452/5; Bell 133, Buttler 13 – England bring up the 450 shortly before the tea interval, and the big question now is how long they will bat on for.

3.23pm – Bhuvneshwar then induces an edge from Bell, but the ball bounces short of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip. Buttler smashes Jadeja over mid-off for his first Test boundary.

3.18pm – REVIEW! - A let-off for Buttler, who edges Bhuvneshwar to Rahane at second slip, but third umpire Rob Bailey judges the ball didn’t carry. The Lancashire keeper then gets off the mark next ball with a three through the covers.

3.12pm – Bell produces a sensational on drive to take four off Shami, and England’s biggest concern now could be the dark clouds rolling over the ground, which have led to the floodlights being turned on.

3.03pm - WICKET! Moeen c Rahane b Bhuvneshwar 12; Eng 420/5 – Something of an unsightly attempted pull brings about Moeen’s demise, with Ajinkya Rahane taking a sharp chance at second slip. Bhuvneshwar has figures of 2-4 from 16 balls since lunch.

3pm – A cut four ensures that Jadeja’s over eventually costs 21. Coincidentally, this is Bell’s 21st Test century, which has put England well and truly in command of this game.

2.56pm - CENTURY! Bell (179b 12x4 2x6) – Ravindra Jadeja is the first bowler since lunch to get a two-over spell, but Bell smashes him down the ground for six to bring up his ton. A cover driven four and another straight six follow, and England are past 400.

2.43pm – The Ageas Bowl announcer has probably had enough of announcing a new bowler every over since lunch, but the tactic is working for Dhoni with the scoring rate down and Root departing.

2.32pm – Moeen Ali is in at six, and Pankaj gives him a working over with some short stuff – an attempted hook only producing a play and miss. Bell continues to make serene progress at the other end.

2.20pm - WICKET! Root c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 3; Eng 378/4 – Joe Root never really got going, and Bhuvneshwar brings his innings to an end with one that just moves away a tad to induce an outside edge.

2.17pm – Bell fires a leg glance off Pankaj Singh to the rope, as Dhoni continues to alternate his bowlers. These are fantastic batting conditions, and England are taking advantage as they press towards 400.

2.06pm – Mahendra Singh Dhoni has turned to the unusual tactic of employing his trio of seamers in one-over spells, with all three getting an over at both ends after lunch. He’s also standing up to the stumps off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

1.56pm – Root and Ian Bell feel their way in to the afternoon session, before the latter cuts Shami to the third man boundary.

1.45pm – There is a bit of bounce and swing for Mohammed Shami in the first over after lunch, but a lack of accuracy means Joe Root goes largely untroubled.

Morning Session

Gary Ballance is the one wicket to fall for a wonderful 156 as England enjoy a profitable morning session

1pm - LUNCH! Eng 358/3; Bell 68, Root 2 – Joe Root comes in at five with England in an excellent position. He gets off the mark before lunch with a single from Jadeja. The hosts will be hoping for quick runs after the interval.

12.54pm - WICKET! Ballance c Dhoni b Sharma 156; Eng 355/3 -  Rohit Sharma comes into the attack with his off-breaks and Ballance’s innings comes to an unfortunate end. He’s given out caught behind, although replays suggest he didn't hit it. Still, a fine innings from the left-hander who gets a standing ovation. 

12.50pm – Dhoni’s field setting leaves Jadeja no margin for error outside off stump, and Ballance emphasises that point by thrashing him through the vacant cover region for four. England have passed 350.

12.45pm - 150! Ballance (278b 23x4 0x6) – Ballance whips Jadeja to square-leg for four, then pulls away Pankaj in the next over to bring up his first Test 150. England’s last three individual scores above that mark had all come from Joe Root.

12.34pm – Bell runs a gorgeous late cut off Jadeja down to the third man fence, before Dhoni reinstates a two-seven field for Ballance. The left-hander still manages to flash a four through the leg side.

12.21pm - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP! – Bell pulls Shami behind square for a couple to bring up the hundred partnership, then flashes the next ball to the point boundary.

12.12pm - FIFTY! Bell (99b 7x4 1x6) – Bell smashes Jadeja down the ground for six, then takes a single off Shami to deep square-leg to bring up his 42nd Test half-century.

11.57am – Ballance flashes Pankaj over midwicket for four, then cuts the same bowler to the third-man boundary. That brings up the 300 for England, and prompts Mahendra Singh Dhoni to bring on spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

11.51am – A back-foot punch through point brings four more for Bell, and Ballance is content to continue improving his highest Test score with a series of flicks and nudges to rotate the strike.

11.43am – Shami thinks he has had Ballance caught at leg slip, but the ball had deflected off pad rather than bat or glove.

11.30am – Ballance catches the boundary bug, cutting Bhuvneshwar through backward point, flicking him to fine-leg and nudging one off his hips to the midwicket boundary all in the space of four balls. England are rattling along at a decent rate this morning.

11.24am – Bell produces one of his glorious cover drives to dispatch Bhuvneshwar to the boundary, and a Ballance single in the next over brings up the fifty partnership.

11.14am – A double misfield at mid-off allows Bell to get going with a single, and he starts Pankaj’s next over with boundaries to third man and long-leg as England pass 250.

11.08am – Debutant Pankaj Singh opens from the Pavilion End, and causes Ian Bell a few problems with some steep bounce. Ballance gets England’s first run of the morning with a single off Bhuvneshwar.

11am – Bhuvneshwar Kumar is first up with the ball to Gary Ballance. There’s some good carry, but not a lot of movement.

Pre-Play News

10.40am – Alastair Cook called on his side to hammer home their early advantage last night, but with a fair amount of cloud cover this morning India’s seamers will be looking to secure a couple of early wickets.

10.30am – Good morning from the Ageas Bowl, where England will be looking to press home their advantage after reaching 247 for two on day one against India.

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