Southampton, July 28: Ian Bell rediscovered his form with sparkling 167 as England piled up a mammoth first innings total of 569/7 to take control of the third cricket Test against India here today.
After Alastair Cook, it was Bell's turn to roar back to form with a blazing knock while debutant Jos Buttler upped the ante with a dazzling 83-ball-85 before England skipper decided to declare.
At stumps, India were 25 for one in 14 overs as their first target will be to reach the magic figure of 370 thereby saving the follow-on. Murali Vijay (11 batting) and Cheteshwar Pujara (4 batting) were at the crease.
Shikhar Dhawan's (6) English Summer turned from bad to worse as he edged one from James Anderson to Cook at slip. The day belonged to senior pro Bell, who hit his 21st Test century and also crossed the 7000 run mark en route his century.
He completed the landmark with a majestic straight six off Ravindra Jadeja to complete the landmark. His partnership with another centurion Gary Ballance (156) yielded 142 runs before the left-hander was adjudged caught behind off Rohit Sharma, which later looked to be a dubious decision.
Ballance, struck 24 boundaries in 288 balls in an innings, that spanned over six hours and 15 minutes. Joe Root and Moeen Ali were dismissed cheaply in the post lunch session by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was by far the most impressive Indian bowler with figures of 3/101 from 37 overs.
However it was young Buttler replacing Prior, who stole the show in the last session with some breathtaking hitting as he struck nine fours and three sixes. Buttler was lucky to when there was no conclusive evidence of Ajinkya Rahane taking a clean catch in the slips off Bhuvneshwar's bowling.
Two of the three sixes hit by Buttler were flat-batted ones hit in an over from Pankaj Singh (0/146 in 37 overs). Once Buttler was bowled by Jadeja, Cook called back the batsmen. Jadeja sent down a marathon 45.4 overs taking two for 153 in the process.