Bell half century puts England on top at lunch

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Nottingham: Ian Bell hit a stylish half century to allow England dominate the opening session against India on the third day of the second Test being played at Trent Bridge.

The right-hander was unbeaten on 84, unfurled a flurry of boundaries to guide England to 130 for 2 at lunch, putting them 63 runs in front of India who had 67-run first innings lead.

England, who resumed at 24 for 1 this morning, lost their skipper Andrew Strauss for 16 runs who poked at a Sreesanth outswinger to be caught by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The session though belonged to Bell who most dealt with boundaries hitting 14 of them in the process.

Bell has so far put on 73 runs for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen (20 batting) after putting on 51 runs for the second wicket with Strauss.

Bell`s scoring-spree began when he steered Praveen Kumar for his first boundary of the morning.

The cover drive off Sreesanth in the next over was more authentic as was a straight drive against the same bowler in the next over.

Both Sreesanth and Praveen now found it difficult to stem the flow of runs. Sreesanth was flicked off his pads while Praveen was first steered and then driving down the ground by Bell.

At the first drinks interval, England had added 46 runs to their overnight score and were 70 for 2. Yuvraj was introduced for couple of overs after the drinks and was greeted with a four thrust off his pads by Bell.

Ishant Sharma now came in to bowl from the pavilion end and Bell hit him for two successive fours, both on the onside, one a flick to fine leg and the other sent hurrying past square leg, which also raised the half century for the right-handed batsman.

Bell, at this stage, had batted for 105 minutes and 73 balls and hit 10 fours. Bell, now clearly set, square cut Kumar to fence and then hit Ishant Sharma for two fours behind fine leg and third man for successive boundaries.

It also raised the first 100 of England innings, they having bated for 142 minutes and faced 188 balls, containing 14 fours. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was introduced 20 minutes before the lunch break and both batsmen milked him profitably.

Bell cut and swept him for four while Pietersen swept him in the penultimate over of the session for his first boundary off the 52nd ball he faced.

England, in all made 106 runs from the session, from the 27 overs India bowled. Bell has so far batted for 155 minutes and hit 15 fours from 106 balls?14 of them this morning.

Pietersen has been batting for 84 minutes and 59 balls and has hit a solitary four in his 20 runs.

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