SPINNER Graeme Swann backed captain Alastair Cook’s decision not to enforce the follow on as England were left frustrated in their attempts to claim a big win in the first Test with Bangladesh in Chittagong.
Chasing England’s massive 599-6dec, the Tigers were bowled out for 296 with Swann claming 5-90.
But instead of looking to wrap up an innings victory, stand-in skipper Cook opted to bat again and his side were consequently frustrated, struggling to 131-5 at the close – a lead of 434 with two days to play.
Many questioned the decision as ultra-conservative, but Swann insists captain Cook had the full support of the team.
“The follow-on was discussed but we felt this was the best way to win, to go back out and grind Bangladesh into the dirt. With a fully rested bowling attack we will hit them hard tomorrow.” He added: “We’re 430 ahead after three days and you can’t argue with that. Yes, we lost a couple of wickets at the end which isn’t ideal, but with two days to play I think we’re in the box seat.”
Things looked bleak for the Tigers when Tamim Iqbal fell for 86, but Naeem Islam (38) and Mushifiqur Rahim (79) put on 113 for the eighth wicket before a stunning one-handed catch from substitute fielder James Tredwell to dismiss Rahim helped Swann to his five-wicket haul.
First innings centurion Cook (39) and Michael Carberry (30) both failed to capitalise on starts, while Kevin Pietersen (32) and Paul Collingwood (5) fell early, as spin pair Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan grabbed two wickets apiece.