Swann wears Bangladesh down
It may have taken longer than expected, and contained more awkward moments than they would have cared for, but England finally wrapped up victory over Bangladesh on the last day of the opening Test.
Although Junaid Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim kept the tourists at bay during a fruitless morning session - raising the prospect of a draw that seemed unlikely in the extreme for much of this contest - a flurry of wickets after lunch paved the way for a 181-run win in Chittagong.
If Siddique, who made a maiden Test hundred, and Rahim, who fell five short of a century, provided evidence that Bangladeshis do indeed have the capacity to bat for long periods, their propensity to collapse was also evident as they slipped from 277 for five to 331 all out.
Graeme Swann was the catalyst, removing both batsmen in quick succession after the interval on the way to a haul of 5-127 and match figures of 10-217. He is the first English spinner to take 10 wickets on the sub-continent.
While England’s performance could hardly be described as ruthless - their bowling lacked discipline this morning and they spilled two catches for the second day in a row - it is worth noting that they had to contend with a pitch as flat as a bottle of cheap lemonade.
Hence the overriding feeling was relief as Alastair Cook left the field reflecting on victory in his first Test as captain, with any thoughts he and his colleagues may have harboured of an easy ride in this series surely banished ahead of the final match in Dhaka starting on Saturday.
Siddique - bounced out in the first innings - showed immense character during his six-hour 106, while fellow 22-year-old Mushfiqur underlined his burgeoning reputation, and strengthened his case for a move up the order, with a second sizeable contribution of the game.
Their partnership of 167, which spanned four sessions, was Bangladesh’s highest for the sixth wicket on home soil, and suggested the future of cricket in the country is far from gloomy despite a record of three wins in 65 Tests.
The match award deservedly went to Swann, who shouldered the spin burden to the tune of 49 overs in the second innings and an astonishing 78.3 in the match. Whether he receives any support from fellow off-spinner James Tredwell in Dhaka remains to be seen.
Early wickets were the order of the day for England when Bangladesh resumed on 191 for five, faced with the prospect of batting out a minimum of 90 overs to pull off a great escape at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
However, Siddique and Mushfiqur, who could not be separated throughout the evening session yesterday, extended their alliance for a further two hours as England, despite being armed with the new ball, continued to toil away in oppressively humid conditions.
Mushfiqur, 47 overnight, looked the more assured of the two batsmen this morning, punching Steven Finn through cover to go to a 107-ball half-century.
A thick edge off Tim Bresnan took Siddique, who slept on 68, past his previous highest score - 78 against West Indies in Kingstown last year - and he was fortunate to see another fly through a vacant third slip moments later.
There were, however, strokes of authority, most notably sweetly-timed straight drives at the expense of Stuart Broad and Finn, the second of which took him to a hundred spanning 262 deliveries and containing 16 fours.
He planted a kiss on the pitch as way of thanks. He can rarely have batted on such a lifeless surface, and one that did to much to sap the spirits of the bowlers, although it could be argued that Cook’s field settings were unnecessarily cautious given England’s dominant position.
Fortunately, wicketkeeper Matt Prior’s drop off Swann to reprieve Siddique on the stroke of lunch - a tough edged chance as the left-hander attempted to cut - did not prove costly.
Swann struck in his first over after the interval, drawing the left-hander forward and locating his outside edge to end a magnificent innings spanning 292 balls and containing 17 fours.
Mushfiqur, whose occasional flashes of aggression contrasted with his largely compact and measured approach, paid the price for a reckless charge down the pitch at Swann with three figures in sight. He yorked himself and had his off stump pegged back.
Broad’s lbw appeal against Abdur Razzak was so adjacent he did not even appeal to the umpire - an unseemly habit from a young player who showed his petulance on more than one occasion in this contest.
Shahadat Hossain, who saw Paul Collingwood spill a difficult one-handed chance at second slip off Broad when he had made five, managed seven more before edging a flat-footed drive at Bresnan.
Although Naeem Islam smote three fours and three sixes in an entertaining 36, Swann had him taken by a tumbling Michael Carberry at deep midwicket to cap a stunning individual performance.
The new Brit Insurance 2010-11 official England Cricket Team kit will be available to pre order from April 1 via ecb.co.uk, and in store from April 29