A 100-run partnership between Ian Bell and Stuart Broad helped build an imposing England lead of 261 runs on Day 3 of the first Ashes Test.

England finished the day at 326-6, setting up what should be a thrilling climax. 

Resuming on 80-2, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen looked set before falling on 50 and 64 respectively, reducing England to 157-4 at lunch.

Jonny Bairstow managed just 15 before falling to Day 2 batting hero Ashton Agar, while Matt Prior hit 31 before Peter Siddle had him caught by Ed Cowan. At that stage England were just 218-6 - a lead of only 153 - and the match was in the balance.

That left Bell and Broad to dig in to drag England back into the match after tea, and the middle order pairing slowly but surely accumulated runs.

Broad hit 47 crucial runs off 122 balls - a vital knock - while Ian Bell hit a magnificently defiant 95 off 228. Both are not out heading into tomorrow's play.

Broad looked to have been caught at slip off the bowling of Agar at 37 - but umpire Aleem Dar didn't budge despite replays appearing to show an edge. Australia had already used their reviews earlier in the day, and were left rueing the decision.

Mitchell Starc was the pick of the Australian bowlers - finishing with figures of 2-66 off 27 overs. Shane Watson deserves mention though, despite not taking a wicket. The medium pace all-rounder bowled 15 overs with 11 maidens for just 11 runs.

But on a deteriorating pitch, England will feel they stand an excellent chance of winning the opening skirmish after this gritty end to Day 3.

History is on their side - the record fourth innings chase at Trent Bridge is 284 - set by England against New Zealand in 2004.

With four wickets in hand, England will look to pass that mark tomorrow morning before putting the pressure back on their opponents.

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Cricket
The Ashes