Australian captain Michael Clarke will contemplate an overnight declaration despite powerful opener David Warner nearing his second century of the Ashes series.
Showers are forecast in Adelaide at times over the next two days and Clarke is eager to crush England after a session spent resting his pacemen and wearing down the demoralised opposition.
Warner’s unbeaten 83 was the mainstay of Australia’s 3-132 that extended the lead to 530 with two days to play.
No team has scored more than 418 to win a fourth innings run chase and it is beyond the realm of possibility that England will extend that mark by more than 100 on an Adelaide Oval pitch offering significant turn.
England’s challenge will be to resist Mitchell Johnson and his pace colleagues who are eager to provide Australia with a 2-0 lead before travelling to the WACA Ground where they will be red-hot favourites.
Johnson twice narrowly missed claiming hat-tricks as England folded in the face of his searing and hostile bowling.
The WA paceman finished with 7-40 including a remarkable three-over spell that brought five wickets as his heavy artillery shattered England’s Ashes defence
Johnson’s seven wicket haul was the second best of his career after claiming 8-61 against South Africa at the WACA five years ago.
Michael Clarke did not enforce the follow-on despite Australia’s 398-run lead as he sought to give his paceman sufficient time to rest before their big assignment at the WACA Ground next week.
Panesar is a genuine No.11 by belied his reputation by surviving a bumper barrage for nearly an hour to help Bell add 37.
But the session belonged to Johnson whose pace and accuracy devastated England.
Debutant Ben Stokes thought he had scored five from an overthrow when he survived a LBW appeal only for the decision to be reviewed in Australia’s favour directly after lunch.
Johnson then peppered Matt Prior for several balls before drawing an edge behind while Stuart Broad was bowled around his legs first ball after waiting nearly 10 minutes for a problem with the sightscreen to be fixed.
Johnson claimed three wickets in that maiden over and could have had Graeme Swann first ball of the next to complete a hat-trick when the batsman chipped between the fieldsmen on the legside.
But Swann didn’t last long before Clarke accepted a sharp catch at second slip.
James Anderson then completed a pair of golden ducks for the England opening bowlers when he failed to keep out a 150km/h rocket spearing at his stumps.
Bell chipped the hat-trick ball just short of cover but then lashed out with four sixes and an 18-run over against Ryan Harris to provide some substance on the scoreboard.
Second innings runs were discounted given that Australia started the session with a lead of 398 but Chris Rogers and Shane Watson would have been annoyed to miss out after battling hard for valuable half-centuries on the first day.
Both players fell in Anderson’s second over.
Rogers has not been dismissed by the canny seamer since his comeback Test at Trent Bridge in July but was undone by a splendid outswinger that he followed and edged behind.
And Watson faced one ball before smearing his second to point to leave his team 2-4.
Clarke (22) and Warner shared an easy half-century stand that ended in ominous fashion for England when Monty Panesar got the ball to bite hard and spin past Clarke’s bat onto off stump.
Steve Smith (23 not out) won a DRS challenge after being given out LBW to Anderson on seven and remained with Warner as Australia sailed on with an eye on the weather as much as the scoreboard.
Mitch in the second Test..But Ian Bell embarrassed his inept bating colleagues with a fierce counter-attack that left him 72 not out when Johnson bowled last man Monty Panesar at 172.