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Pick of the day

We pick out the best of the action from the third day of the opening Ashes Test

Michael Clarke: Took a nice catch to dismiss opposing skipper Alastair Cook

Ian Bell: Showed brilliant timing on numerous cuts down to third man

With another day of tension, drama and controversy behind us, the opening Test in this summer's Ashes is finally starting to take shape.

England are now big favourites having built a second-innings lead of 261 with four wickets still in hand at the end of the third day, but the main talking point proved to be Stuart Broad's non-dismissal after edging to slip.

Ian Bell claimed player of the day honours on Friday but what of the rest of the action? Here we pick out the best of the day:

A cut above the rest

Player of the Day: Ian Bell

Some powerful straight driving from Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen ensured there was no shortage of contenders for shot of the day, but Ian Bell's impeccable timing eventually won out over the rest. The England batsman, who finished the day unbeaten on 95, tormented Australia with a number of late cuts down to the third-man boundary.

Bell has often been viewed as a batsman with immense natural talent who sometimes seems unprepared for the rigours of Test cricket, but today he once again proved he can perform with his back against the wall.

Australia seemed powerless to prevent him from dabbing the ball behind square for boundary after boundary and whatever configuration Michael Clarke arranged his slip cordon in, Bell managed to find the gap.

Swing and a miss

James Pattinson: Big swing

None of England's four dismissed batsmen on day three fell due to a real jaffa, so it was a bit of a struggle to pick out a ball of the day. However, we have settled on the delivery which was the most visually spectacular, even if it did not yield a wicket.

James Pattinson has perhaps been Australia's best exponent of swing in the opening Test, and he got one to move through the air dramatically during the morning session.

With England under the cosh somewhat having just lost Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook, Pattinson released one to Bairstow which seemed to be lining up well outside off but swung in wildly and was angling towards fine leg by the time it was gathered by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.

Bairstow could not be blamed for shouldering arms given the initial trajectory, but he almost lost his off stump in the end.

Catching Cook

Should Broad have walked?

With only two catches being taken on the third day, the catch of the day honour suffers from a distinct lack of prestige.

However, Australia skipper Michael Clarke deserves a mention for his athletic one-handed grab to remove England captain Cook.

Cook misjudged the spin on an Ashton Agar delivery and as soon as the ball caught his leading edge, trouble was in the air. But when the ball looped up in the direction of slip, Cook's fate was by no means a foregone conclusion.

Clarke had to go high, off his feet and with his left hand but still managed to pluck the chance out of the air and make it stick. It should have been the first of two catches for the Aussie captain, which brings us to...

Standing his ground

Only got themselves to blame

For the second day running the opening Test has had a genuine controversy of the day on its hands. On Thursday the course of the match was changed by two dubious DRS decisions, but while Australia benefitted then they were left furious this time around.

It was not a review, but the lack of one which triggered the incident as Stuart Broad - facing Agar - deflected one off the gloves of wicket-keeper Brad Haddin into the hands of Clarke at slip.

First impressions indicated that Broad had hit the ball and the replays confirmed a significant edge, but umpire Aleem Dar did not pick it up and the finger wasn't raised.

Australia had no reviews remaining and, with Broad being unwilling to walk as his team-mate Jonny Bairstow had earlier in the day, his innings was allowed to continue.

And finally...

Shane Watson may not be the most explosive bowler Australia have, but he was certainly the most economical on day three. At one point the steady seamer had staggering second-innings figures of 13 overs, 11 maidens, 0-3. Although he conceded eight runs from his final two overs he finished with 15 overs, 11 maidens and an economy rate of 0.73.