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Bell and Broad boost England cause

By Chris Devine and Callum Dent at Trent Bridge

An unbroken partnership of 108 between Ian Bell and Stuart Broad threatened to give England control of the topsy-turvy Investec Ashes opener at Trent Bridge.

The seventh-wicket pair batted throughout the evening session on day three, Bell moving within five of an 18th Test hundred and Broad adding 47 not out.

England were therefore able to reach stumps on 326 for six, boasting a lead of 261 that had looked likely to be beyond their reach earlier in the day.

Having been on the wrong end of a couple of umpiring decisions yesterday, the hosts - and Broad in particular - benefited from a degree of good fortune in the evening session.

Broad and Bell survived difficult chances to Ed Cowan and Brad Haddin respectively, on 29 and 77, while the number eight was given not out by umpire Aleem Dar when Australia appealed for a catch off Ashton Agar.

Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook extended their third-wicket stand, worth 69 overnight, to 110 at the start of the day, yet it was Bell who pressed on to provide England’s most telling innings.

Largely eschewing the drive on a slow pitch, the 31-year-old demonstrated admirable patience and collected many of his runs with delicate dabs down to third man.

He may have displayed more fluency on occasion, but can rarely have provided such important staying power.

England were still in a position of peril at 218 for six when Bell was joined by Broad, their lead standing at just 153.

Yet any hopes Australia had of swiftly running through the tail duly evaporated and Michael Clarke’s men may yet need to pull off the highest successful chase at Trent Bridge, which came when England made 284 to beat New Zealand in 2004.

Pietersen, batting with more fluency than the previous evening and retaining an appealing willingness to play straight, was the dominant presence in the opening hour.

However, Australia’s seamers - much like James Anderson 24 hours earlier - soon posed an increased threat with the aid of reverse-swing.

Just as England appeared to be seizing the upper hand, Pietersen dragged a wide ball from James Pattinson onto middle stump and departed for 64.

Cook brought up a dogged 167-ball fifty in Pattinson’s next over, which saw Bell open his account with fours through cover-point and fine-leg.

Yet the captain was unable to add to his score before becoming Agar’s first Test scalp. Australia’s teenage debutant followed up yesterday’s batting heroics by inducing a leading edge as Cook tried to work across the line and Clarke reacted sharply to take a catch high to his left.

Bell and Jonny Bairstow showed grit to make it through a gripping period prior to lunch as Australia sensed blood, although there was a scare for the former, who was given out lbw in one of umpteen Shane Watson maidens only to see the decision overturned on review when replays suggested the ball was just sliding down.

Bairstow could not kick on after the interval and Agar had further reason to celebrate when the Yorkshireman was caught behind off a well-flighted delivery.

That brought in Matt Prior, who opted to counter-attack and scored freely following the acceptance of the second new ball.

Prior’s adventure ultimately led to his downfall as, after dashing to 31, he pulled a Peter Siddle short ball to midwicket.

The runs kept on coming for England, however, as Broad offered able support to the defiant Bell.

Broad was fortunate to see edges land short of wicketkeeper Haddin and Clarke, stationed at a wide first slip position, as Watson, who ended the day with figures of 15-11-11-0, continued to exhibit admirable accuracy.

After taking his stand with Bell past 50, Broad was put down; Ed Cowan moved to his left at short-leg as the batsman swept, but barely had any time to react as the ball struck his right hand and fell to the turf.

England’s number eight then survived a strong appeal for a catch by Australia, whose frustration intensified as the previously untroubled Bell edged Siddle to Haddin’s right only for the keeper to spurn a half-chance.

That was to be the last opportunity of the day as Bell and Broad extended their partnership into three figures prior to stumps being drawn.

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Evening Session

Highlights of a terrific evening session for England, which saw Ian Bell and Stuart Broad bat through to stumps

6:22pm - STUMPS - Eng 326/6 and lead by 261; Bell 95, Broad 47, - England take a lead of 261 into the fourth day after a brilliant seventh-wicket partnership between Bell and Broad frustrated Australia. Both players will have milestones in their sights tomorrow, with Bell needing five for an 18th Test ton and Broad requiring three for a half-century. 

6:15pm - James Pattinson, back at the Pavilion End, is aggrieved not to win an lbw appeal against Bell on 94. However, replays show there was an inside-edge and the bowler receives a talking to from umpire Kumar Dharmasena for his over-zealous appeal.

6:05pm - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP - Broad flashes a cut to the point boundary to move the seventh-wicket stand into three figures. Watson must be tiring; he has started to concede runs!

6pm - So many runs have disappeared down to the vacant third-man boundary today. Again, Bell squirts the ball under Steven Smith at gully to register his 12th four. 

5:53pm - Clarke throws the ball back to Watson, who completes his 11th maiden of the innings. He has bowled immaculately today. 

5:44pm - Bell again takes advantage of there being no fielder at third man by caressing Siddle to the boundary. He is 15 short of a century.

5:40pm - England's lead is now 238 with 11 overs left to be bowled today. 

5:28pm - CHANCE - Umpire Aleem Dar remains unmoved when Australia think they have Broad held at slip via a deflection off Brad Haddin's gloves. Bell then edges Siddle under the right hand of the diving Haddin for another four.

5:17pm - Australia appeal for a run-out, only for replays to show Bell was safely home. The right-hander then guides a four through the gully to add to the tourists' frustrations. 

5:13pm - Broad scoops Agar over the infield and gets four when Phil Hughes makes a hash of trying to stop the ball going over the rope. England's number eight slog-sweeps Agar over deep mid-wicket.

5:05pm - CHANCE - Broad, on 29, almost becomes the victim of a stunning catch by Ed Cowan. The short-leg anticipates the paddle sweep and scurries round, but fails to hold on to what would have been a spectacular take. 

5pm - The accurate Watson is replaced by James Pattinson and the runs start to flow for England. After Bell guides through gully for three, Broad finds his range by crunching a cut to the point boundary before seeing the ball glance off his body and race away for four leg-byes. 

4:53pm - Watson, who has conceded just three runs off 12 overs, is starting to frustrate Broad, who keeps attempting expansive drives. However, the batsman has better luck against Starc, punching him through the covers for a welcome boundary which takes the seventh-wicket stand past 50.

4:46pm - Bell flicks into the leg side for a single that extends England's advantage to 200. Will it be enough? Broad is playing with fire at the minute, this time inside-edging an inswinging ball from Mitchell Starc, who is back on at the Radcliffe Road End. 

4:40pm - Broad shows a hint of frustration as he inside-edges just past his stumps after middling three drives to the off-side fielders. The left-hander then edges just short of Michael Clarke in the cordon. In the end, the over was a maiden, Watson's ninth from 11 sets of six. 

4:35pm - Shane Watson is back into the attack and continuing to bowl a nagging line and length. Bell and Broad are battling hard. 

4:27pm - Agar, now operating over the wicket, is whipped through midwicket by Bell for three. England are edging their way towards a 200-run lead. 

4:18pm - Broad pulls Agar just short of deep midwicket and then edges the left-arm spinner past slip for two to help England pass 250. 

4:09pm - Stuart Broad registers his first boundary of the innings, driving Peter Siddle through the covers, before an all-run four takes the Nottinghamshire man into double figures on his home ground. 

4pm - The players are back out in the middle. Ashton Agar will deliver the first ball of the evening session to Ian Bell. 

Afternoon Session

Highlights of another nerve-jangling session at Trent Bridge

3:41pm - TEA - Eng 230/6 and 165 ahead; Bell 56, Broad 1 - Broad is not tempted by three successive bouncers by Pattinson and this match remains delicately poised as tea is taken.

3:32pm - FIFTY! Bell (127b 7x4 0x6) - An inside edge saves Broad as he is rapped on the pads by Starc. The new batsman duly gets off the mark with a single before Bell takes two to midwicket and completes a battling half-century. He now boasts 6,000 Test runs.

3:21pm - Bell, who now has Stuart Broad for company, appears key to England's hopes. He is two short of 50 but has just played and missed aiming an indeterminate stroke at the fired-up Siddle.

3:13pm - WICKET! Prior c Cowan b Siddle 31; 218/6 and 153 ahead - This is a big blow. Prior ultimately pays the price for his aggression when pulling a bumper to midwicket. He did not clear Cowan on this occasion.

3:11pm - He may have survived a scare just now, but Prior's positive intent is really making a difference here. A straight-driven four off Siddle carries him to 29 and he then dashes between the wickets for two more. England's lead stands at 153.

3:05pm - Prior almost gives it away. Leaning back, he carves Siddle, who has switched ends, towards deep backward point and only just clears a leaping Ed Cowan. A taller man may have got his hands to that one.

3pm - A glorious back-foot drive from Bell takes the Warwickshire man to 47 and England past 200. Agar is reintroduced and Prior cuts for four more. Runs have come freely since the new ball was taken.

2:56pm - Clarke reacts to that expensive over from Starc by reintroducing Siddle, the pick of Australia's attack in the first innings. Pattinson appeals for a catch down the leg side, but that delivery brushed Bell’s thigh pad.

2:42pm - Starc offers up some width and Prior rocks back to cut in more authoritative fashion. A terrific pull stroke follows from England’s wicketkeeper-batsman, who has dashed to 15. Time for a drink with England 131 in front.

2:38pm - Conventional swing is now the chief threat to England. Prior picks up four in rather ungainly fashion when throwing his hands at a wide ball from Pattinson. Bell then helps a poor short delivery around the corner to reach 42.

2:29pm - Watson makes it eight maidens in nine individual overs, but will take a rest as the new ball is taken. Mitchell Starc, operating from the Radcliffe Road End, gets the first crack at England with the fresh cherry.

2:24pm - There is real tension in the air now. Everyone in the ground is aware of how important this partnership could be.

2:18pm - The new ball is now available, but Michael Clarke declines to take it with his bowlers posing a consistent threat. Matt Prior is the new batsman, while Watson's figures read 8-7-2-0.

2:14pm - WICKET! Bairstow c Haddin b Agar 15; Eng 174/5 and 109 ahead - No doubt about this one. Bairstow props forward to Ashton Agar and a flighted delivery takes the outside edge to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

2:11pm - REVIEW - A real close call for Bell! He is adjudged lbw to the last delivery of Watson's seventh over, a sixth maiden, but benefits from a review as replays show the ball was just missing leg stump.

2:02pm - That’s classy from Bell, who plays late with soft hands to divert Pattinson to the rope at third man. He repeats the trick two balls later.

1:57pm - Pattinson is getting the old ball to reverse again now and Bell almost plays on. Bairstow then gets lucky when twice playing and missing outside off stump in a Siddle maiden. England are 99 ahead.

1:49pm - Both batsmen take leg-side singles off James Pattinson, before Bell dabs Peter Siddle past point for three. There is not much pace in this pitch and Australia have been unable to find any lateral movement since lunch. They could take a new ball in six overs time. 

1:39pm - Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow return to the middle and play is about to recommence. Each session in this match seems to take on greater importance than the last. This is certainly a biggie.

Morning Session

Highlights of an extremely tense morning session on day three at Trent Bridge

1:03pm - LUNCH - Eng 157/4 and 92 ahead; Bell 20, Bairstow 13 - Bell almost scoops up a simple chance to Phil Hughes at cover off Pattinson, who is reverse-swinging the ball superbly. Bell and Bairstow have battled hard since the quick dismissals of Pietersen and Cook. 

12:50pm - REVIEW - Pattinson hits Bairstow on the front pad with a full inswinging delivery and Australia use their last review, but the ball was missing the stumps. 

12:46pm - Watson concedes his first runs off the fourth ball of his sixth over this innings as Bell glances through gully for two. The Warwickshire right-hander then cuts Starc, who is making life difficult with the help of reverse-swing, to the boundary and helps England reach 150 with two more. 

12:35pm - Bell and Bairstow nudge a couple of twos to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The tourists are applying the pressure superbly. 

12:27pm - Shane Watson has been thrown the ball for the first time this morning and starts with a maiden. Despite claiming his maiden Test wicket, Agar has been replaced by Starc at the Radcliffe Road End. 

12:18pm - This is a crucial passage of play now. England are only 66 runs ahead and need a big partnership from Bell and Jonny Bairstow to extend that lead.  

12:10pm - WICKET! Cook c Clarke b Agar 50 - Agar gets a huge breakthrough for Australia. The England skipper looks to work the ball into the leg side, but gets a leading edge that Michael Clarke holds on to high to his left at slip. 

12:08pm - FIFTY! Cook (164b 6x4 0x6) - Cook, now at the crease with Ian Bell, tucks Pattinson into the leg side to reach his half-century. Bell gets off the mark with a lovely drive to the boundary. 

12pm - WICKET! Pietersen b Pattinson 64; Eng 121/3 - Cook and Pietersen are rotating the strike admirably at the minute, frustrating Australia's bowlers. The latter opens the face and guides Pattinson down to the vacant third-man boundary. However, the bowler responds as Pietersen inside-edges on to his stumps four balls later.

11:50am - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP - Ashton Agar is brought on from the Radcliffe Road End and Cook scoops the left-arm spinner over midwicket for four to take his partnership with Pietersen into three figures.  

11:45am - Pietersen continues to play straight, driving a Siddle full-toss down the ground for four. Cook, who has been slightly reserved this morning, then gets in on the act by whipping a short and wide Pattinson ball behind point. 

11:35am - James Pattinson, replacing Siddle, immediately beats Pietersen's outside edge. A leg-bye helps England reach three figures. 

11:28am - FIFTY! Pietersen (120b 10x4 0x6) - Pietersen drives Starc through the covers for his fourth boundary of the morning, passing 50 in the process. 

11:22am - Pietersen punishes a wide Starc delivery by crashing the left-armer through the cover-point region. The right-hander is playing his shots at every opportunity this morning. 

11:16am - Pietersen, advancing down the pitch to Starc, is fortunate when a leading edge races to the cover boundary. That has been the only moment of concern for England so far. 

11:10am - Starc, from the Radcliffe Road End, starts with a maiden. England are up and running in the second over as Alastair Cook flicks Peter Siddle into the leg side. Pietersen then finds the first boundary of the morning, inside-edging a full toss to the fine-leg rope.

 
11am - Here we go! Mitchell Starc will deliver the first ball of the day to Kevin Pietersen.
 
Pre-Play News
 
10:56am - Cook and Pietersen follow Australia and the umpires out into the middle, with Jerusalem in full flow. 

10:50am - The ground is filling up nicely with spectators anticipating another enthralling day of Test cricket. Play will start in 10 minutes. 

10:43am - The sun is already out in Nottingham, which could aid the batsmen, but Australia will be hoping to replicate their bowling performance on the opening day. 

10:25am - Cook and Pietersen's rearguard action with the bat brought praise from James Anderson, who had intially swung the momentum England's way yesterday morning with his 14th five-wicket haul, in last night's press conference. Read what the Lancastrian had to say here

10:10am - Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen steadied the ship last night after Ashton Agar's extraordinary 98 on Test debut. England's captain has 37 to his name and Pietersen 35. Much could depend on how long they stick around today on a pitch that still appears true.

10am - Morning everyone. Day three of the first Investec Ashes Test at Trent Bridge begins shortly and if it is anything like the previous two we are in for a treat. England will resume on 80 for two, leading by 15.

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