Ian Bell Moeen Ali England
Ian Bell raises his arms in delight after striking a wonderful century in the third Test against IndiaReuters

Plan A for England, going into the second day of the third Test against India in Southampton, would have been to pile on the runs, with a hundred or two more, and bat India out of the game, before hopefully picking up a couple of late wickets to put MS Dhoni's men firmly behind the eight ball.

Well, they executed that plan perfectly as the India bowlers were sent on a leather hunt before the inevitable early wicket of Shikhar Dhawan put the cat amongst the pigeons.

On another day when batsmen ruled all and sundry at the Rose Bowl, the India bowlers were tonked to all parts of the ground as Ian Bell (167) got out of his own rut to score a majestically elegant hundred, while Jos Buttler (85) ensured England would not miss Matt Prior with a typically belligerent, brutal knock to help England to a massive 569 for seven declared.

In reply, the openers Dhawan and Murali Vijay had 14 overs to negotiate, but almost expectedly, Dhawan found that outside edge off swing-king James Anderson to put India in early trouble, before Murali Vijay 11 n.o., 41b, 1x4) and Cheteshwar Pujara (4, 26b) saw their side to the close of play at 25 for one.

Earlier, England began the day exactly like they would have envisaged with Bell and Gary Ballance picking up from where they left off on day one. After the 158-run partnership that India had to endure between Alastair Cook and Ballance, England inflicted further misery on the bowlers with another big century partnership, this time between Ballance and Bell, worth a serene 142.

That alliance, as England began from an overnight score of 247 for two, meant the hosts firmed their grip on the match by rather emphatically moving on to 355, before Ballance's impeccable innings of 156 (288b, 24x4) was brought to an end by Ravindra Jadeja a smidgen before Lunch. Ballance was a little unlucky to be given out caught behind off a ripper of a delivery from Jadeja, with the ball striking his trousers rather than his willow on the way through to Dhoni.

That wicket did not deter England, though, even if Joe Root (3, 25b), unable to get those scorers working overtime, fell a little after Lunch, and was soon followed by Moeen Ali (12, 28b, 1x4), with the left-hander just not able to settle in and falling off another short delivery -- Bhuvneshwar Kumar (37-10-101-3) picking up both wickets.

Bell, taking a particular liking to Ravindra Jadeja, was his supreme best, those cover drives, flicks and mouth-watering straight drives coming to the fore as the Indian bowlers could do little but admire batsmanship at its best along with the supporters.

The wicket by now had lost any little edge it might have had, with the decent pace off the pitch, with very little movement, only making it more perfect for the batsmen to play their strokes.

Buttler, making his debut, and Bell had a bit of fun in the middle – the pressure off, the freedom to play extravagant shots and a pitch heaven-sent for the batsmen. The result was the third 100-run partnership of the innings, with the duo putting on 106 in just 22.4 overs to take England over 500.

Bell (167, 256b, 19x4, 3x6) became Bhuvneshwar's third victim with England looking to press, press and press a little more, opening up the path for Buttler to go a little more berserk.

India's nightmare first innings with the ball would finally end in the 164th over, as Buttler (85, 83b, 9x4, 3x6), coming off a flurry of boundaries, which put him within touching distance of a hundred on debut, played-on off Jadeja, who bowled a colossal 45.4 overs for 153 runs with two wickets, to fall 15 runs of that magical three-figure mark.

But, the job had been done and it is over to India to show their batting prowess and ensure they stay in the lead in this five-match Test series.

Also read