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Kent's Joe Denly hits half-century in England tour game against New Zealand A in Whangarei

Kent batsman Joe Denly hit a half-century to enhance his prospects of playing in the first Test between England and New Zealand.

The 33-year-old right-hander looks set to play at the Bay Oval in Tauranga on Wednesday after initially fearing his tour was over when he missed the Twenty20 series against the Kiwis after injuring ankle ligaments.

Batting at four – one place lower than he is expected to bat in the Test – Denly made 68 to help rescue England from 105-5 to 355-8 in reply to New Zealand A's 302-6.

Kent and England batsman Joe Denly.
Kent and England batsman Joe Denly.

He and Ollie Pope (88) added 90 for the sixth wicket with Denly hitting seven fours and three sixes from 147 balls faced.

Jos Buttler helped continued the revival by also hitting 88.

Kent vice-captain Denly, who has scored fifties in each of the last three Tests – all against Australia – said: "When I first did my ankle it was touch and go whether I'd be fit for this game.

"I've been on the ice machine every hour of every day.

"I was a little bit emotional when I was sitting in that changing room looking at it and I feared my tour might be over.

"But it's been really good, responding really well to every day.

"It's not swelling up and it's in good condition now. Hopefully that can continue."

Denly has won eight Test caps and averages 28.56 with a top score of 94 against Australia at The Oval this summer.

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