Meanwhile, Bangladesh's decision to drop ineffective seamers Rubel Hossain and Robiul Islam and call in an extra spinner - Abdur Razzak - was entirely vindicated on a wicket offering significant turn that will have England's Graeme Swann licking his lips - and may raise questions over England's decision not to summon a second spinner.
After winning the toss and predictably opting to bat in warm sunshine, England's batsmen picked up where they left off at Lord's, reaching 38-0 after nine overs, with Shahadat Hossain conceding 25 off four before being replaced by the spinner Mahmudullah.
Shafiul Islam, the other Bangladesh change from Lord's, was much more impressive, testing Strauss with a pacy bouncer early on, and making scoring difficult with a tight line.
And the 20-year-old eventually gained his reward, removing the England captain with the first ball of his sixth over.
Strauss played a defensive shot to a ball that was angled across him and nicked an outside edge through to Imrul Kayes at second slip.
Shafiul, who came into the match with an inauspicious bowling average of 87 from four Tests, struck again in his next over as Lord's double-centurion Jonathan Trott was undone by a little late movement, the ball striking an inside edge and pad on its way through to leg stump.
A fine morning for Bangladesh was rounded off when an inspired change from skipper Shakib Al Hasan brought the third wicket.
Left-arm spinner Razzak deceived Cook in the flight, with the batsman starting to move forward, before checking back and playing away from his body at a ball that went straight on. Junaid Siddique did the rest at first slip.
Pietersen, watchful before the interval, served notice of his intent to go on the offensive after lunch, lofting Razzak over mid-off for four in the first over after the resumption, before starting to unleash shots all round the wicket to reach his half-century off 73 balls.
The normally circumspect Bell seemed to be infected by his partner's enthusiasm, advancing down the wicket and hammering Razzak over his head for a maximum.
It was beginning to look ominous for the Bangladeshis when, not for the first time, Pietersen's exuberance got the better of him.
Charging down the wicket to Shakib, he took a swipe at a ball which gripped and turned dramatically past the bat and presenting wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim with the simple task of removing the bails.
Kevin Pietersen trudges off after his dismissal at Old Trafford
It was a brave and intelligent piece of spin bowling from Shakib, but Pietersen will no doubt be kicking himself after missing a golden chance to score his first Test hundred since March 2009.
Bangladesh were dealt a blow midway through the session when Shafiul pulled up in the field and went off with what appeared to be cramp, and it was not until well into the final session that he reappeared.
Bell, who had a lucky escape when an edge off Shakib struck Mushfiqur's pads, took the lead role in a partnership with Eoin Morgan and brought up his 24th Test fifty with a late cut to the fence.
The pair added 70 for the fifth wicket before Morgan was dismissed by a stunning piece of fielding 20 minutes after tea.
The Irishman's full-blooded cut looked destined for the boundary, only for Jahurul Islam to leap to his right and pluck the ball from the air with a spectacular one-handed catch.
After cracking successive fours off Shahadat, Bell seemed to go into his shell somewhat as slow left-armers Shakib and Razzak gained a stranglehold on proceedings.
Indeed, the normally free-flowing Matt Prior struggled to get the ball off the square and had laboured 70 balls for his 21 not out when bad light, followed by rain, brought a premature end to the day.
Meanwhile, England have awarded an incremental contract to fast bowler Steven Finn, who took nine wickets in their eight-wicket victory in the first Test at Lord's.
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