Bowler’s ca­reer-best fig­ures help Eng­land to T20 vic­tory

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - RORY DOL­LARD SPORTS REPORTER ■ Email: yp.sport@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

ENG­LAND signed off the lim­ite­dovers leg of their Sri Lankan tour with a re­turn to win­ning ways in Colombo as Joe Denly ended an eight-year ex­ile in style.

Eng­land have played 384 in­ter­na­tional matches since Denly last ap­peared on the big stage – a lowkey out­ing against Pakistan in Fe­bru­ary 2010.

But he did more than enough to jus­tify his sec­ond chance as the tourists re­asserted them­selves with a 30-run vic­tory just four days af­ter a record one-day de­feat on the same ground.

Hav­ing scored 20 of Eng­land’s 187-8 the 32-year-old took the spotlight with his re­born legspin, top­ping and tail­ing the in­nings to fin­ish with 4-19 – the best fig­ures of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

On any or­di­nary day Adil Rashid’s out­stand­ing spell of 3-11 would have dom­i­nated, but this was a chance to cel­e­brate Kent’s come­back kid, whose chances of ap­pear­ing in the forth­com­ing Test series have surely spiked.

His bowl­ing was lit­tle more than an af­ter­thought when in his early Eng­land days but Denly has worked hard on it and may now join York­shire’s Rashid and Moeen Ali in a three-strong spin at­tack in Galle.

Eng­land might still have strug­gled with­out Ja­son Roy’s 69 – a devil-may-care knock that in­cluded six sixes, four fours, four dropped catches and all the fun of the fair.

Af­ter kick­ing off with a flurry of burly blows it seemed Roy might be at his dom­i­neer­ing best and al­though that was not the case, he provided fine en­ter­tain­ment.

The first reprieve came on 21 when Roy checked a drive and gave a re­turn chance to Isuru Udana, who flung out a hand but failed to hang on.

Within a mat­ter of sec­onds Sri Lanka were ap­peal­ing in vain for ob­struct­ing the field, Roy aban­don­ing a risky sin­gle and charg­ing back when the at­tempted run out hit him on the back of the leg.

There was an­other spu­ri­ous ap­peal for a catch when Roy hit the ball straight into the ground.

Roy de­cided to ride his luck as far as he could, launch­ing him­self at al­most ev­ery­thing, some­times clear­ing the ropes with ease and some­times re­ly­ing on the gen­eros­ity of the fielding side.

There were dol­lies on 34 and 41, grassed at deep-mid­wicket and long-off, and a trick­ier fin­ger­tip chance via the toe end of the bat on 53.

Even at the non-striker’s end he was in the thick of it, un­will­ing or un­able to per­suade Alex Hales to re­view a poor lbw and in­volved in the mis-com­mu­ni­ca­tion that saw Eoin Mor­gan run out.

When the end came it was fit­ting, a thin nick off a shud­der­ingly aw­ful Lak­shan San­dakan long-hop. Rain ar­rived mo­ments later and when play re­sumed al­most an hour later Eng­land added 74-4 in the re­main­ing 8.4 overs to close on 187-8.

Mor­gan sur­pris­ingly tossed the new ball to Denly, who has done the job well do­mes­ti­cally but was barely a part-time op­tion when he last wore Three Lions.

It took six balls to pay off, Kusal Mendis play­ing in­side one that took off stump, and af­ter five more it looked a mas­ter­stroke when the dan­ger­ous Niroshan Dick­wella fell in sim­i­lar fash­ion.

Rashid’s role in the Tests is al­ready as­sured but he is even hap­pier with a white ball in his hands.

With his goo­gly in rude health and a clever change in pace he was near im­pos­si­ble to get hold of, Di­nesh Chandi­mal and Ka­mindu Mendis both tried and failed, Hales on hand to catch them in the deep.

Much-hyped debu­tant Mendis had ear­lier show­cased his re- mark­able abil­ity to bowl right and left arm spin, and will surely be seen again.

Dhanan­jaya de Silva was Rashid’s third vic­tim, trapped lbw by a com­bi­na­tion of Rashid’s wiles and a well-judged DRS re­fer­ral.

Denly re­turned for the fi­nal over the match and, with the re­sult in hand, he picked off This­ara Per­era and Malinga to end his day in de­light.

Af­ter­wards, Denly savoured every mo­ment af­ter pro­duc­ing a man-of-the-match per­for­mance on his re­turn to the in­ter­na­tional stage.

“It’s been a long time com­ing,” he said, adding he’d “never given up on that dream,” as he pon­dered his mes­sage to oth­ers who find them­selves off the se­lec­tor’s radar for ex­tended pe­ri­ods.

“I cer­tainly feel a dif­fer­ent player to where I was back then and I came in with the at­ti­tude of em­brac­ing it and en­joy­ing every mo­ment of it.

“I was younger back then and prob­a­bly didn’t know what to make of it all but be­ing more ex­pe­ri­enced and play­ing in var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions around the world has put me in a good po­si­tion to step back into in­ter­na­tional cricket and per­form like tonight.

“For me, the last eight years have had ups and down but, cer­tainly for the last two or three years, I’ve en­joyed my cricket a lot more and played with a bit more free­dom.”


FOUR- MIDABLE: Eng­land spin­ner Joe Denly took 4-19 –the best fig­ures of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer, in his side’s Twenty20 win over Sri Lanka in Galle. York­shire’s Adil Rashid, left, claimed 3-11.

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