Pakistan get in the groove as Denly makes a hundred


Pakistan’s bowlers got some overs under their belts as Kent captain Joe Denly made an attractive century on the final day of their tour-opener at Canterbury on Tuesday.

After both Sunday and Monday’s play in this four-day fixture had been washed out without a ball bowled, Kent were 209 for four in reply to Pakistan’s first-innings 168 when a draw was agreed late in Tuesday’s final session.

Denly was 113 not out. Together with opener Sean Dickson (74) he put on 160 for the second wicket, after Kent had been one for one following the early loss of Daniel Bell-Drummond on Saturday.

Hasan Ali took one for 28 in 15 overs and Mohammad Amir one for 45 in his 15 overs.

“Today the boys bowled really well,” Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood told reporters.

“Early season in England, it’s always difficult for the boys, coming from Pakistan and getting adjusted to the weather — it’s quite cold for them,” added the former Pakistan all-rounder, who knows Canterbury well from his time playing for Kent.

There was no play before lunch on Tuesday after the ground was flooded by a huge downpour on Monday.

But, after extensive work by the ground staff, the match resumed at 1300 GMT under sunny and blue skies.

Kent were then 39 for one, with Dickson 24 not out and former England batsman Denly unbeaten on 12.

The Kent skipper went to a 90-ball fifty in style with a straight six off leg-spinner Shadab Khan, with Dickson following him to the landmark when he pulled Hasan Ali for a four.

But when Dickson was lbw to Shadab it sparked a flurry of wickets.

Kent’s 161 for two became 174 for three when Alex Blake had his stumps shattered by a late-swinging yorker from left-arm quick Amir.

“Mohammad Amir, that yorker to Blakey I think was probably getting most people out,” said Denly, who played alongside Amir for the Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 tournament.

Shadab then bowled Zak Crawley for a duck.

But Denly struck two superb cover-driven fours in the space of three Amir deliveries to complete a 169 ball-century that included 13 boundaries and three sixes.

“It was nice of him to bowl those nice half-volleys,” said Denly, playing down his own shot-making.

– ‘Skilful’ –

“They are obviously a very skilful bunch of bowlers, especially Mohammad Amir.

“If there’s any swing conditions, then he will make the most of it, that’s for sure, and when it’s not swinging he’s capable of bowling balls like that (yorker) so England are going to have be on top of their game,” he added.

Pakistan’s 168 featured a well-made 61 from Imam-ul-Haq, whose selection for the tour provoked plenty of debated given the left-hander — yet to play Test cricket — is the nephew of chairman of selectors and former international batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq.

But Mahmood said Imam had been rewarded for the time he spent with Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower after failing to secure a PSL contract.

“He’s getting into good positions, playing well on the front foot as well as the back foot,” Mahmood explained.

“He looks like he’s been here (in England) for a long time.”

Pakistan next face Northamptonshire in another four-day fixture starting Friday before providing the opposition for Ireland’s inaugural Test, in Malahide, from May 11-15.

They then play England in a two-Test series at Lord’s (May 24-28) and Headingley (June 1-5).