England’s middle order rescue day two of New Zealand warm-up

Joe Denly had been a doubt for the Test in New Zealand with an ankle injury
Tour match, Cobham Oval, Whangarei (day two of three):
New Zealand XI 302-6: Phillips 116, Blundell 60, Archer 2-58, Stokes 2-64
England 355-8: Pope 88, Buttler 88, Denly 68, Mitchell 2-10, Tickner 2-19

Joe Denly says he is “as near as 100% fit” to face New Zealand in the first Test after scoring 68 on day two of the warm-up match against New Zealand A.

Denly, who is expected to bat at three, missed the Twenty20 series against the Kiwis after injuring ankle ligaments.

Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope both scored 88 to also help rescue England after they had fallen to 105-5.

New Zealand A declared on 302-6 in the final warm-up match before next week’s first Test at the Bay Oval in Tauranga.

Denly, who has notched up half-centuries in each of the last three Tests, added: “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.”

England, who had resumed Saturday morning on 26-1, saw captain Joe Root and vice-captain Ben Stokes dismissed for single figures within six balls of each other.

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