Bell And Buttler Pummel Shabby India

On the first day England's struggling captain Alastair Cook had found runs - if not form - to lay a platform, and on the second their other out-of-sorts senior pro, Ian Bell, made his first hundred since August 2013 to eliminate India's chances of improving their 1-0 lead in the series.

The home side also unearthed a new hope. Jos Buttler, the limited-overs specialist who replaced Matt Prior as wicketkeeper, played the sort of innings Adam Gilchrist used to, rattling along at more than a run a ball against a listless attack and shabby fielders. He missed a century on debut only because he was accelerating his team towards a declaration.

England scored 117 in 18.4 overs after tea, and India's left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja suffered the most. He had conceded only 34 in 22 overs on the first day; he went for 119 in 23.4 overs on the second.

The stage for England's tea party had been set in the previous sessions, when Bell batted like he had never been short of runs. He put on 142 for the second wicket with Gary Ballance, who converted his overnight 104 into his highest Test score.

Bell and Ballance were near perfect in the sunshine. They were beaten only occasionally, edged less frequently, had fewer scares, and scored swiftly. The portents were ominous for India. M Vijay was lackadaisical at mid-on and allowed the second run of the day, and when the debutant Pankaj Singh found Bell's edge, the ball went between third slip and gully. Bell received a leg-side appetiser next ball, which he glanced for four.

India rely on Bhuvneshwar Kumar to bowl long and economical spells but he was off his game. Shami did not improve on a disappointing first day. Too often he was too straight or offered width, and bowled a poor length. Pankaj lost his discipline in his second spell, after he had been impressive in his first, and both batsmen were soon scoring all round the wicket.

Jadeja had no impact either. In his second over, Bell skipped down and lofted the left-arm spinner over the straight boundary, a shot he repeated later in the day to bring up his 21st Test hundred and pass 7000 runs.

With no wicket in sight, MS Dhoni turned to Rohit Sharma. With his fifth delivery, Rohit got the ball to bounce and turn away from Ballance. The batsman was beaten but umpire Rod Tucker could not see the ball had missed the edge by a considerable margin and only brushed the batsman's trousers on its way into the wicketkeeper's gloves. That was the only blemish in England's 111-run session.

Dhoni made 15 bowling changes in 15 successive overs after lunch, rotating Shami, Pankaj and Bhuvneshwar - perhaps to give them more of a break between overs so that they could bowl longer spells. There was a little movement in the air as clouds gathered and floodlights came on, but the seamers failed to string together enough good balls and build pressure. Bell continued to capitalise on the width by driving, cutting and flicking.

Bhuvneshwar had Joe Root caught behind just before the second drinks break as the batsman advanced, but India's good spirits were short lived. When Dhoni decided to bowl Jadeja again, Bell tore into him, hitting two sixes and two fours in a 21-run over.

With his seamers tiring, Dhoni persisted with Jadeja at one end and continued rotating his quicks at the other. Bhuvneshwar had Moeen Ali caught behind trying to pull a short ball, a growing weakness in the batsman's game. Bhuvneshwar nearly handed Buttler a duck on debut, too. Ajinkya Rahane had claimed a low catch at second slip but the batsman was reprieved after replays indicated doubt, as they often do with such referrals. He punched the next ball through cover for his first Test runs just before tea.

Buttler's initial target was Jadeja, who was driven through and over cover repeatedly. He also used his limited-overs nous and reverse-swept the spinner twice. India could have been spared some pain had Shikhar Dhawan caught Buttler, on 23, at first slip; instead their drop-count in the cordon rose to six for the series. Bell and Buttler took 13 runs off successive overs from Jadeja. The acceleration was on.

Bell got to 150 and then walked down to pull Pankaj dismissively to the long-on boundary; Buttler charged Jadeja and launched a straight six to take England past 500. Their century stand took only 132 balls.

England might have waited for Bell to get a double century, but he holed out to give Bhuvneshwar his third wicket. Buttler continued rampaging, though, and India went to pieces. Dhoni missed a ridiculously easy stumping, and Pankaj, after being pulled for consecutive sixes, missed a straightforward chance to run out Chris Woakes during a 21-run over. When Buttler bottom-edged on to his stumps for 85 - scant consolation for Jadeja - Cook declared to give India 14 overs to face in the gloom.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad ran in hot, swinging and seaming the ball, their extra pace causing more discomfort than India's slower seamers did. Dhawan did not survive, his wretched run in the series exacerbated by an Anderson delivery that angled into him from round the wicket, squared him up and took the edge to first slip. It was a perfect end to England's day.


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