London, July 11:

Ian Bell’s Test-best score of 171 not out left England in a commanding position in the first Test against South Africa at Lord’s here today.

England, at tea on the second day, were 535-6 — the first time in 15 Tests they made 500 or more in the first innings since their 570-7 against the West Indies at Headingley last year. Stuart Broad was 54 not out, having played his part in a century stand and completing a fine half-century.

Earlier, South Africa-born Kevin Pietersen had made a dominating 152 in his first Test innings against the Proteas. His partnership of 286 with Bell, who’d come in when the hosts were in trouble at 117-3, was an England record for the fourth-wicket against

South Africa, surpassing the 197 shared by Wally Hammond and Les Ames at Cape Town in 1938-39.

England resumed after lunch on 422-5, with Bell 118 not out and Tim Ambrose four not out. But before they’d added another run Ambrose was out, edging fast bowler Morne Morkel, who at tea had taken 4-102, to South Africa captain Graeme Smith at first slip. The 26-year-

old Bell went past his previous Test-best of 162 not out against minnows Bangladesh three years ago.

Smith appeared to be running out of ideas, with little in the way of unusual field placings or innovative bowling changes to worry the batsmen. Hopes that both the England’s centurions would bat through the morning session ended when Pietersen’s gloved Morkel to wicket-keeper Mark Boucher. And two balls after a brief rain break, Paul Collingwood was given out caught at short leg by Hashim Amla off Harris.

England began on Friday on their overnight score of 309-3 with Pietersen 104 not out and Bell unbeaten on 75. Pietersen produced an array of fine shots with a front foot clip off Ntini, whose first six overs on Friday cost an expensive 40 runs, through the legside reminiscent of West Indies great Vivian Richards. He gave just one chance, on 133, when Kallis failed to hold a sharp caught and bowled off a powerful drive.