SOUTHAMPTON, England : Ian Bell made his 42nd half century as England reached 358-3 at lunch to strengthen its position on day two of the third test against India.
With England resuming on 247-2, Gary Ballance continued his strong form from Sunday, but was caught behind off Rohit Sharma by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni shortly before lunch on 156 -- India's only breakthrough of the session.
Bell took 99 deliveries to reach 50, bringing up the milestone with a single from Mohammed Shami. He had earlier hit Ravindra Jadeja back over his head for six as he looked to follow the example of captain Alastair Cook, who exploited a flat wicket on day one to rediscover his confidence and made 95.
Bell, 68 not out at the interval, will now look to reach his first test century since August 2013 against Australia. Balance, though, must feel unfortunate to have been removed by Sharma for his first test wicket, as replays clearly showed the ball hit his thigh pad and missed his bat.
Replays are unavailable to both sides in this series, with India a long-standing opponent of the technology. Ballance finished on 104 not out Sunday, becoming only the fifth England player to make three hundreds in his first six tests.
Sharma and Jadeja both seemed to discover some turn in the wicket toward the end of the opening session, which could prove tricky for Bell and Joe Root (2 not out) after lunch.