Chittagong: England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said his hard work in training paid off, helping him overcome spin woes to put his side in a strong position in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong Saturday.
Stokes hit 85 runs to steer England to 228-8 in their second innings at stumps on the third day after Bangladeshi spinners reduced them to 62-5 at one stage.
On a pitch that offered spinners on both sides plenty of turn, Stokes appeared to have mastered the wicket with his feisty innings, giving England a sizable 273-run overall lead.
"It`s down to hard work," Stokes said after the third day`s play.
"All the training that I have done has put me in decent stead for conditions like this.
"Obviously the ball (is) spinning as much as it is. All of us are making sure that our defences are tight.
"We can hit boundaries, but the hardest thing to do is defend when you first come in. Today I thought my defence was pretty tight when I first went in. So the training`s been helping."
Stokes had a worthy partner in Jonny Bairstow as the duo racked up 127 runs in the sixth wicket to bail out England from a potentially dangerous position.
Bairstow left the pitch for 47 to miss out on a deserving fifty but his innings ensured England stemmed the rot and gradually took control.
"(We were) just looking to rebuild and get some kind of partnership together," Stokes said.
"It wasn`t a case of scoring at a huge run rate. Just slowly rotate the strike and making sure we are still ticking over, not take too many risks.
"At the same time also making sure that we are switched on to be able to put the bad balls away.
"We knew that if we kept rotating the strike then the fielders around the bat would have to go away to stop the singles."
Stokes earlier had a three-wicket burst with the ball that helped England dismiss Bangladesh for 248 runs in the first innings and grab a slender 45-run lead.
While spinners from both teams dominated the match, Stokes produced some reverse swing to great effect.
He credited his team-mates with keeping the shine of the ball intact, helping him generate the reverse swing.
"Joe Root and Alastair Cook and the guys who look after the ball for us were on top of making sure that the shiny side stayed shiny and that no moisture got into the rough side," he said.
"It`s tough to tell the spinners to keep their hands off with the amount of bowling they are doing.
"But they did a really good job and Rooty making sure that he kept the ball in really good order and that did help," he said.