Ballance and Bell Slam Tons as England Pile Up
England were firmly in control of the third Test at the end of Day 2 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Monday. Alastair Cook declared the England innings at 569 for 7 after Ian Bell scored 167 and debutant Jos Buttler slammed a quickfire 85, while Gary Ballance reached his highest Test score of 156.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the most successful bowler in trying conditions with three wickets as the others toiled in vain.
In reply, India were 25 for 1 after Dhawan (6) fell early once again to his nemesis James Anderson. Murali Vijay (11) and Cheteshwar Pujara (4) were at the crease with India trailing England by 544 runs in the first innings.
The second day too belonged to England as Ian Bell ensured that the hosts capitalised on the platform he had helped lay with the top-order batsmen. After the departure of Gary Ballance for 156, the stylish No 4 batsman took over reins to help England post a formidable total.
After helping Ballance lay a solid foundation in a 142-run stand, he consolidated the hosts’ innings and then accelerated in the last session with Jos Buttler to keep England in the driver’s seat. Bell who had resumed on 16 in the morning went on to score 167 before departing while the debutant’s late onslaught put further pressure on India.
The Ballance-Bell pair had challenged the Indian bowlers and kept them at bay in the first session until Rohit Sharma (1/26) ended the flourishing partnership a couple of overs before Lunch.
Ian Bell struck his 21st Test century. The 32-year-old reached the landmark with a straight six off Ravindra Jadeja and also completed 7000 Test runs in the process.
The stylish No. 4 batsman reached his fifth 150-plus score and had a crucial partnership with Jos Buttler. England were 524 for 5 as Jos Buttler completed his maiden Test fifty. Bell finally departed when Pankaj Singh took the catch off Bhuvneshwar Kumar after making 167. England were 526/6.
India got the wickets of Joe Root (3) and Moeen Ali (12) with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/101) turning out to be the most successful bowler for India. It was surprising to see that the Indian skipper didn’t give a lengthy spell to any of his three medium-pacers after lunch, instead opting to give them one over at a time.
Mohammad Shami (1-123), Pankaj Singh (0-146) and Bhuvneshwar were rotated in this manner throughout the first hour of play. These bowling changes resulted in the wicket of Joe Root (3), out in the 128th off Kumar, and perhaps put a check on the scoring as well with only 30 runs coming off the 13 overs bowled.
Dhoni continued with the same ploy but deployed Ravindra Jadeja (2-153) from the other end.
Ian Bell then decided to cut loose and charged down the wicket in the 135th over of the innings and deposited Jadeja straight down the ground for his second six, bringing up his hundred off 179 balls, with 12 fours included.
The 400-run mark had come up in the same over as Jadeja was taken for 21 runs. Bhuvneshwar then got his second wicket with Moeen Ali (12) again falling to a short ball. And he should have had his third as well but Buttler, on nought, was adjudged not out by the third umpire when Ajinkya Rahane took a low catch at second slip. He survived to add 32 runs for the sixth wicket with Bell and took the score past the 450-run mark in the 144th over, the quickest fifty of the innings, coming in only 55 deliveries.
Day 1: England 1st inn 247/2 in 90 overs (G Ballance 104*, A Cook 95, I Bell 16*)
Day 2: England 1st inn 569/7 decl. in 163.4 overs (I Bell 167, G Balance 156, J Buttler 85, B Kumar 3/101); India 1st inn 25/1 in 14 overs (M Vijay 11*, C Pujara 4*, J Anderson 1/14).