The tourists, who need a win to stay in the series, lost the toss and were inserted in tricky conditions, but dug in to give their bowlers something defendable.
Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen both made 76, the former cut off by a risible lbw decision, and Joe Root confirmed his rising-star status with 57 not out in 45 balls as England added 101 in the the last 10 overs.
Cook kickstarted the innings with three boundaries off Shami Ahmed's third over, with Bell briefly following his lead with two of his own against Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But it was not his day and he fell in ugly fashion, charging Ishant Sharma and spoonfeeding a thick edge down third man's throat.
With Sharma showing great control, it took Pietersen 13 balls to get off the mark and after 22 deliveries he had only two runs. But Cook was doing enough at the other end to prevent stagnation and Pietersen slowly started to work the ball around as England settled for steady accumulation.
It took a poor decision from Sudhir Asnani to change things, Cook given lbw for 76 to a ball pitching well outside leg.
The platform should have suited England's middle order, but instead India took advantage of their good fortune, aided by some slack batting. Eoin Morgan (three) and Samit Patel (one) played desperate shots, Morgan chipping Ravichandran Ashwin to long-on off the leading edge and Patel easing a return catch to Ravindra Jadeja after a torrid 10-minute stay.
After an edge took Pietersen past 50 in 84 balls, he moved up a gear, striking four more boundaries and one towering six off Sharma to move swiftly to 76. Sharma replied by bowling Pietersen with a yorker.
Root played fluently at the other end, scoring at around a run a ball before swatting Ashwin for six and cutting him for four more.
He was dropped, dreadfully, by Suresh Raina on 42 but was unfazed, flicking Sharma over his shoulder on his way to a maiden half-century.
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