First Test, Day 3 (at Brisbane): England 260 (IR Bell 76, AN Cook 67; PM Siddle 6-54) & 19-0 v Australia 481 (MEK Hussey 195, BJ Haddin 136, SM Katich 50; ST Finn 6-125)

England faced a long battle to save the first Ashes Test at the Gabba, after Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin's twin hundreds helped forge a monumental sixth-wicket stand of 307.

Hussey (195) and Haddin (136) put on a ground record for any wicket to help Australia pile up a first-innings total of 481 all out, and lead of 221, by mid-evening on day three.

That left an awkward period for England's openers to face before stumps but, despite a close lbw shout against Andrew Strauss from the first ball of the innings, they held out to reach the close at 19-0.

With the Australian pair resuming on 220 for five, England's four-strong frontline attack did not flag up to lunch but wilted afterwards as their fruitless efforts and inevitable frustration took a toll.

Steven Finn (six for 125) then took the last four wickets at a personal cost of 14 runs - but none of that altered the fact England would have to bat for the next day-and-a-half at least to stop their hosts going 1-0 up.

Hussey brought up his century with a supremely-placed drive off Stuart Broad wide of mid-off this morning.

Natural shotmaker Haddin, initially the silent partner, became more typically expansive today - and he reached three figures in the grand manner with a six over long-on, having advanced down the wicket to Graeme Swann.

James Anderson, in particular, bowled very well with the second new ball - to no avail - in an eight-over spell on a sunny morning from the Vulture Street end.

He beat the bat countless times but failed to find the edge.

England, already out of DRS options, suffered an early psychological blow when Hussey overturned an lbw decision on 82 after simulation indicated the ball from Anderson pitched just outside leg-stump.

Three runs later, Hussey survived again when Aleem Dar this time turned down a similar appeal by Anderson - which might have proved successful, had England still had recourse to the third umpire.

It was not until Andrew Strauss introduced Swann, with Australia nine runs in front, that Hussey recorded his first four of the day, 90 minutes in - down the wicket and driven over mid-off to put him within one shot of his hundred.

Haddin was starting to go through the gears, and when England resorted to Paul Collingwood - with a hopeful ring on the drive - to give the frontline attack much-needed respite, the wicketkeeper-batsman immediately went over the top.

His first attempt, on 63, gave England a half-chance. But Alastair Cook could not cling on with outstretched fingers running back from mid-off.

By the time Anderson missed a similar, but easier, chance - at mid-on when Haddin mis-pulled Broad on 113 - it was clear England were suffering from their long toil.

That was as near as they came too to a much-needed breakthrough until after tea, on a wicket probably at its best for batting on this middle day.

England finally ended the stand, more than 24 hours after it started. Then, even with a maiden Test double-century in his sights,

Hussey got lonely without his long-term partner - holing out in the leg-side deep off Finn to make it two wickets in three overs for the addition of eight runs.

Haddin had fallen to a one-handed diving catch at first slip by Collingwood, Swann finding the defensive edge from round the wicket.

In crease time, the partnership lasted more than six-and-a-half hours, and Haddin's share was 16 fours and a six from 287 balls.

Hussey was well into career-best territory before picking out deep midwicket with a pull, ending his 330-ball stay after 26 fours and a six.

Neither those wickets - nor that of Mitchell Johnson, bowled off his pads by Finn for a tortured, 19-ball duck, Peter Siddle or last out Xavier Doherty - significantly improved England's perilous position, though.

Strauss was spared the ignominy of a pair when he left the first ball of the second innings only to see it swing back and rap him on the pads.

Aleem Dar was unmoved and a review showed he was right to judge that the ball was snaking just over the stumps.

Ricky Ponting used five bowlers in the session without success and England will need much more of the same on day four to stand a chance of salvaging a draw.