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County Championship: Kent stand-in skipper Joe Denly hoping to impress with bat against Pakistan

PUBLISHED: 17:45 26 April 2018

Kent's Joe Denly (pic: John Walton/PA)

Kent's Joe Denly (pic: John Walton/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Kent’s acting captain Joe Denly is hoping to make a big impact with the bat when the county host Pakistan this weekend for a four-day, first-class fixture at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

It will be the 10th time Kent have welcomed Pakistan to Canterbury and Denly, who spent much of February and March starring for the Karachi Kings in this year’s Pakistan Super League T20 tournament, is keen to end his lean run of early-season domestic form.

“I see the game against Pakistan as a great opportunity, not only for myself, but for the entire Kent side,” said the former England one-day batsman. “It’s a chance to test yourself against an international-class line up and give yourself a thorough exam as to where you are in your career as a player. If you can perform well in a game like this, then there’s no doubt you’ll take a lot of confidence from it moving forward.”

Denly, who scored three 50s whilst playing alongside tourists Mohammad Amir and Babar Azam for the Karachi T20 franchise, added: “They are quality players and I’m looking forward to catching up with them this week. I loved my time out at the PSL and enjoyed finding some decent form.

“I have to admit that I haven’t spent too much time out in the middle for Kent so far this season. So it’ll be nice if I can reverse that trend over the four days. I’ll be looking to get a big score under my belt for sure and spend as much time out there as I can.

“I know from personal experience that there are some really talented guys in this Pakistan squad and our bowling unit are in for a challenging week. Likewise, when it comes to batting, we will be tested with every delivery but I hope it’s a challenge we’re all up for.”

Like Denly, Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s head coach, is also backing his side to provide the host county with a stern examination from Saturday.

“We are a very confident outfit,” said Arthur. “We are a young team and we’re here trying to resurrect our Test side.

“We feel we’ve got our white-ball [cricket] where we need it now, so we are really excited about this upcoming series with England.

“I’m really excited to see how these young guys come out and perform. There’s some incredible talent in our dressing room, so let’s hope it all goes well for us.

“This is a slightly different Pakistan squad but I do believe our players can adjust to the different conditions over here. We know you have to bowl slightly different lengths, we know you have to play the ball a lot later in England and cover off stump rather than leg stump.

“We have been through all that with them, it is just how quick we can adapt as a side. We have got a lot of time here – we have got the game here at Canterbury then one at Northampton, the Test against Ireland and then a two-day game at Leicester before we play England at Lord’s. We have got a lot of preparation and I am sure we have guys who are good enough to adapt.”

The South African added: “Preparation is really important and the calendar doesn’t usually allow for much, so for us to be able to come here and get this much preparation is amazing. I think it’ll help the team adjust.

“Winning away from home is really tough and not many teams win away, but to give yourself the best chance you have to have good preparation.

“The mood in the camp is excellent and the guys are very excited. They are a young group, so for them to come to England is amazing for them.

“There is a lot of vibrancy in this team, they are fit and raring to go. This bunch have first crack at rebuilding the Test side and that task starts here. This is a really important match for us, Kent are a team on the up and we are going to play at Test match intensity.”

Kent and Pakistan last met in 2010 – when Denly, as a 24-year-old opener, hit 60-odd in each innings to secure the last of Kent’s five draws against the tourists. The county’s sole victory over Pakistan came in 1987, when Alan Igglesen’s haul of five for 60 and a fiery return of three for 52 for West Indies paceman Eldine Baptiste, helped clinch an innings and 152-run win.

The hosts are likely to rotate their bowling options and Kiwi strike bowler Matt Henry and all-rounder Darren Stevens may well be rested. Ivan Thomas, Alex Blake and Calum Haggett are likely to be included in a 13-man squad to be named on the eve of the game.

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