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England seize momentum in thriller

By Chris Devine and Callum Dent at Trent Bridge

A flurry of late wickets gave England the upper hand heading into the final chapter of an utterly enthralling Investec Ashes opener at Trent Bridge.

In pursuit of 311 for victory, more than any team has chased to win a Test in Nottingham, Australia closed on 174 for six.

On another day featuring multiple shifts in momentum, Michael Clarke’s men had been 84 without loss and 161 for three, only for England to hit back with breakthroughs at crucial times.

The hosts saved their most potent burst for late in the evening, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann combining to remove Clarke, Steven Smith and Phil Hughes in the space of 18 deliveries.

Although England appeared favourites at stumps, with Australia still 137 short of their target, the presence of Ashton Agar - promoted from 11 to eight following his extraordinary first-innings 98 - served as a reminder that anything could yet happen.

Agar was unbeaten on one, while Brad Haddin, a pugnacious veteran sure not to give up easily, had 11 to his name.

On a slow pitch offering appreciable turn, England added 49 to their overnight 326 for six, the masterful Ian Bell extending his epic innings of defiance to 109 from 267 balls.

Bell’s chief support came from Broad, who contributed 65 to a seventh-wicket stand of 138

The day began in comical fashion as Mitchell Starc opened up from the Radcliffe Road End with a horrendous beamer that flew past first slip for five no-balls.

A lower full-toss from the left-armer was then carved past gully, taking Bell to 99, before Broad brought up his half-century with a thick edge between first and second slip off James Pattinson.

That brought warm applause and there was an even bigger cheer in the next over when Bell benefited from a sloppy piece of fielding at point to reach three figures.

When Australia finally claimed a seventh wicket, Pattinson having Broad caught behind as the left-hander looked to force off the back foot, the end of the innings came quickly.

After taking Pattinson for two glorious fours in succession through cover and backward point, Bell was undone by reverse swing as Starc induced an edge through to Haddin from round the wicket.

England’s top-scorer departed to a standing ovation and was soon joined in the pavilion by Swann and James Anderson, who were held at second slip and midwicket in the same Peter Siddle over.

Shane Watson and Chris Rogers were each troubled by the new ball prior to lunch, but gradually grew in stature.Having picked up three wickets for four runs, Australia got off to a fine start with the bat.

With the exception of an occasional edge landing short of a slip fielder, highlighting the placid nature of the pitch, there was little to excite England prior to the afternoon drinks interval.

Yet the first ball after the break brought success as Broad trapped Watson in front for 46.

The batsman erred in calling for a review, but Rogers was successful in overturning a decision after being given out to Swann for 38. It was not clear whether umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised the finger for caught behind or lbw, but replays proved Rogers was in the clear on both counts.

Rogers subsequently brought up a composed 104-ball half-century, his first in Tests.

England headed into the tea break on a high, however, after Joe Root - brought on to operate in tandem with fellow off-spinner Swann - lured Ed Cowan into a drive and saw Jonathan Trott hold on at slip.

Root’s maiden Test scalp left Australia 111 for two and they ceded further ground when Rogers, on 52, undid all his hard work by clipping a cutter from Anderson straight to midwicket.

England battled hard for another breakthrough, with Steven Finn posing much more of a threat in his second spell, but Clarke and Smith dug in to reduce their side’s arrears to 150.

It was then that this remarkable match took yet another twist, Broad having Clarke caught behind via the faintest nick - confirmed when Australia's skipper called for a review - before Smith fell lbw to Swann next ball, sparking wild celebrations among the home supporters.

Swann was not finished there and won another leg-before verdict, albeit with the aid of a review, after finding sharp spin to pin Hughes in front.

Haddin and Agar survived the remaining 9.1 overs to set up a thrilling finale on day five.

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Australia 2nd Innings

Evening Session 

6:31pm - STUMPS - Aus 174/6 and need another 137 runs to win; Haddin 11, Agar 1 - Haddin and Agar survive an over apiece from Swann and Anderson, meaning they will return tomorrow needing another 137 runs to win. England require just four wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the Investec Ashes Series.  

6:23pm - Agar and Haddin look like they are happy to see it out until the close. The latter guides one down to third man for a couple. There are two overs left tonight. 

6:11pm - Swann is making the ball talk! The off-spinner locates the edge of Agar's bat, but the ball squirts narrowly wide of a diving Alastair Cook at second slip. Haddin, content to defend against Broad, drives Swann to the cover boundary. 

6:02pm - CHANCE - Brad Haddin inside-edges Swann on to his pad and the ball lands just to the right of a diving Prior. 

6pm - Ashton Agar's heroics in the first innings have seen him elevated three places to number eight. This is a big half an hour now. 

5:54pm - WICKET! Hughes lbw Swann 0; Aus 164/6 - It's all happening now! Swann squares Phil Hughes up and traps him lbw, with a review proving successful after replays showed the ball had pitched in line. That one turned a mile!

5:40pm - WICKET! Smith lbw Swann 17; Aus 161/5 - And another! Momentum has swung England's way thanks to two wickets in as many balls. Swann drags one back to Smith, who is rapped on the pads bang in front. The batsman stands his ground, but Australia have no reviews left. 

5:35pm - WICKET! Clarke c Prior b Broad 23; Aus 161/4 - Broad gets a huge wicket as Clarke feathers a wide delivery behind. Aleem Dar checks whether the ball carried and, after replays show it did, Clarke is unsuccessful with Australia's final review as HotSpot shows a mark on the bat. 

5:34pm - Smith and Clarke have both tried and failed to hit Swann over the top. Broad, on at the Radcliffe Road End, gives Smith width and the batsman takes advantage with a beautiful drive on the up through the covers. 

5:27pm - Clarke drives Finn past the slips for four, Australia's first for 11 overs. England need a wicket here. 

5:21pm -  Smith hurries through for a single to bring up the Australia 150. The tourists require another 160 runs to win and there will be another 15 overs tonight. 

5:08pm - Steven Finn goes up for a huge lbw appeal against Steven Smith and, after Aleem Dar is unmoved, the hosts decide against a review. Replays show the umpire's call would have remained after Finn hit Smith marginally outside the line. 

5pm - Poor fielding from England lets the tourists off the hook. As Clarke and Smith scamper through for a quick single, Broad - from mid-on - throws the ball too high for wicketkeeper Matt Prior and concedes an overthrow.  

4:48pm - Clarke runs three in successive overs, paddle-sweeping Swann and driving Anderson. The former is looking to be positive, especially against the spinner. 

4:36pm - After a wicket-maiden from Anderson, Clarke relieves some pressure by glancing Broad to the fine-leg boundary. Steven Smith gets off the mark with a well-driven four off Anderson.  

4:25pm - WICKET! Rogers c Bell b Anderson 52; Aus 124/3 - Rogers' impressive knock ends in tame fashion as he scoops an Anderson slower ball to Ian Bell at midwicket. 

4:20pm - Broad strays in line and a delivery brushes Clarke's thigh on the way to the vacant fine-leg boundary. 

4:17pm - James Anderson and Broad are now bowling in tandem and trying to get the ball to reverse. There are some clouds moving in overhead. 

4:08pm - Stuart Broad, on at the Pavilion End, almost breaches Clarke's defences before an lbw appeal against Chris Rogers is turned down, with replays highlighting an inside edge. 

3:58pm - Joe Root bowls the remaining two balls of his second over to Michael Clarke, who gets off the mark with a flick into the leg side.

Afternoon Session

3:39pm - WICKET! Cowan c Trott b Root 14; Aus 111/2 - Root strikes for England! Cowan is lured into a drive and edges to Jonathan Trott at slip. That will be tea and you could argue things are pretty much even once again. This incredible Test continues to ebb and flow.

3:37pm - FIFTY! Rogers (104b 8x4 0x6) - Rogers cuts the new bowler behind square and, after Swann finds some extra bounce in a maiden, then takes a leg-side single to bring up a maiden Test fifty. The veteran has shown admirable composure today.

3:31pm - An edge drops short of the slip cordon for the third time in this innings. Cowan is the lucky batsman this time and Finn the unfortunate bowler. We will have off-spin at both ends prior to tea as Joe Root enters the attack.

3:23pm - Australia move into three figures as Broad dives over the ball at mid-on, enabling Cowan to register a second four. Later in the same over, a short delivery from Swann is cut to the fence.

3:19pm - Finn has a deep point in place and concedes three singles to that fielder in his second over. Australia's progress has understandably slowed following Watson's exit.

3:14pm - There will be no pair for Cowan. He cashes in on a loose ball from Finn with a cut four. Cowan is duly troubled in a maiden from Swann, who looks to have his tail up as England chase a crucial second blow.

3:07pm - Cowan remains scoreless as Broad sends down his first maiden. That will be the Nottinghamshire man’s last over for a while as Steven Finn takes over from the Radcliffe Road End.

2:58pm - REVIEW - All of a sudden England are piling on the pressure. Rogers is given out facing Swann, but calls for a review. Whether umpire Dharmasena thought the left-hander was caught behind or lbw is unclear, but replays show he was neither!

2:54pm - Broad is really cranking up his pace now and the Trent Bridge crowd have come to life. Ed Cowan avoids a king pair, but has yet to get off the mark.

2:48pm - WICKET! Watson lbw Broad 46; Aus 84/1 - Will it ever?! Broad goes full and straight with the first ball after drinks and has Watson lbw working across the line! The batsman reviewed immediately, but I'm not really sure why. That's a huge wicket for England!

2:46pm - Drinks have been taken. Will the brief stoppage break the concentration of the batsmen?

2:39pm - Watson and Rogers take Broad for fours behind square on the off side. Australia are now 81 without loss and require a further 230. Both openers look pretty comfortable.

2:28pm - Stuart Broad takes over from Anderson and operates with a split field to Watson. Swann then brings cries of encouragement from his team-mates and the stands when ripping one past Rogers’ outside edge.

2:16pm - England could do with a breakthrough here. Rogers drives Anderson past point for his fifth four before Watson slog-sweeps Swann to pick up a seventh boundary. Swann subsequently drops short and Rogers cashes in with another four.

2:07pm - Anderson sneaks one through Rogers’ defences, but the ball spins to safety. There is further frustration for the leader of England’s attack when an outside edge drops short of second slip and bounces away for four to bring up the fifty partnership.

2:03pm - After edging an attempted sweep into his pad, Watson is inconvenienced by a Swann delivery that almost rolls along the ground after pitching. The burly right-hander breaks a run of dots by lofting Swann for four through wide long-on.

2pm - While there has not been too much in the way of variable bounce thus far, an increasing number of deliveries are keeping a touch low. With each over Anderson bowls, there is more assistance through the air for the seamer.

1:53pm - Chris Rogers clips confidently off his hip for four, but Anderson starts to get the merest hint of reverse swing as his sixth over progresses.

1:42pm - There is no immediate success for the off-spinner, who is cut for four by Shane Watson. James Anderson will continue from the Radcliffe Road End and, if England's second innings is anything to go by, it may not be long before the ball starts reversing on this abrasive surface.

1:38pm - The players are out for the middle session of day four. England turn straight to Graeme Swann.

Morning Session 

1pm - LUNCH - Aus 28/0; Watson 18, Rogers 10 - Australia's openers have negotiated a difficult seven-over spell before lunch. Watson drives Anderson to the boundary and sees an edge dissect the slip cordon and race away for four. 

12:56pm - Rogers registers his first boundaries of the innings, clipping a full Broad delivery to the square-leg rope and then punching him off the back foot. 

12:51pm - Rogers requires a dive to make his ground after a quick single, although Jonny Bairstow's throw failed to hit the stumps. Watson continues to play his shots. 

12:42pm - Watson takes advantage of Anderson straying in line, clipping two leg-side boundaries. The Lancastrian responds by beating the outside edge. 

12:37pm - Anderson and Stuart Broad are gaining plenty of movement, with the latter seeing Chris Rogers edge just short of Alastair Cook at first slip. 

12:30pm - James Anderson delivers an unplayable ball to Shane Watson first up that swings away superbly. 

England 2nd Innings

12:20pm - WICKET! Anderson c Hughes b Siddle 0; Eng 375ao - Siddle wraps up the innings when James Anderson picks out Phil Hughes at midwicket. Australia require 311 to win the first Investec Ashes Test.  

12:18pm - WICKET! Swann c Clarke b Siddle 9; Eng 375/9 - Swann's struggles end when he provides Clarke with a catch at second slip off Siddle. England's lead is 310. 

12:14pm - Swann is struggling to get Starc away, with the bowler having two lbw appeals turned down. The batsman then chips a leading edge over the top of mid-off for two. 

12:03pm - WICKET! Bell c Haddin b Starc 109; Eng 371/8 - Starc swaps ends and reaps an instant reward as a hint of reverse swing helps him find the edge of Bell's bat, with Haddin taking a comfortable catch. Bell leaves the field to a standing ovation - and quite rightly so!

12pm - Nothing is going right for Australia this morning. Siddle gives Swann width and the right-hander slashes through the gap in the slip cordon for four.  

11:54am - Bell cashes in with two boundaries off Siddle, following an exquisit drive through cover with an angled push to third man. Lovely stuff. Swann gets off the mark with a single into the off-side that extends England's lead to 300. 

11:47am - Swann is almost bowled first ball after failing to play at a Pattinson delivery that was not as short as he initially thought. The paceman continues his working over of the Nottinghamshire man by beating his outside edge. 

11:37am - WICKET! Broad c Haddin b Pattinson 65; Eng 356/7 - Broad pushes at a wide Pattinson delivery and can only edge behind to Brad Haddin. Graeme Swann strides out to the wicket. 

11:32am - Starc's inconsistency has cost him as Peter Siddle is thrown the ball. The seamer starts with a front-foot no-ball that Broad chips over cover for two. The left-hander then rocks on to the back foot and punches Siddle to the mid-on boundary. 

11:24am - Starc's radar is slighly off this morning as he delivers another full toss, this time Bell plays it well. Broad punches Pattinson through mid-on for two to take England's lead to 283. 

11:10am - CENTURY! Bell (237b 13x4 0x6) - Bell squirts one into the off side to go to his 18th Test century. What an innings this has been. 

11:07am - FIFTY! Broad (124b 6x4 0x6) - Stuart Broad reaches his half-century by slashing at James Pattinson and seeing the ball fly through the slip cordon for four. 

11:04am - Ian Bell is using the vacant third-man boundary to his advantage again, moving one short of a century with another four down to that region. 

10:59am - Mitchell Starc starts from the Radcliffe Road End and delivers an outrageous beamer that races through the slips for five no-balls. What a start! 

Pre-Play News 

10:56am - The players make their way on to the field to warm applause from the Nottingham crowd. This first session could be vital to the outcome of the match. 

10:45am - Australia will be aiming to wrap up the hosts' innings as soon as possible to allow themselves enough time to chase down a target. The highest successful pursuit at Trent Bridge is the 284 England made to defeat New Zealand in 2004. 

10:30am - Bell's innings, which has so far spanned 228 balls, is arguably one of his best in an England shirt. Kevin Pietersen was full of praise for the Warwickshire man in last night's press conference, describing his gritty knock as "mature." Read what Pietersen had to say here

10:15am - Bell will resume needing five more for an 18th Test hundred, while Broad is unbeaten on 47. England will want a few more runs yet from their seventh-wicket pair.

10am - Good morning from Trent Bridge. It is a scorching day and England will be hoping to turn up the heat on Australia in the first Investec Ashes Test. Alastair Cook's side are 261 ahead on 326 for six after Ian Bell and Stuart Broad shared an unbroken century partnership on day three. 

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