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Lions lose despite Denly return to form

Monday 16th March 2009

Palmerston North, second one-dayer:

England Lions 284-9 (50 overs; Denly 68, Trott 48, Scott 31) New Zealand A 285-4 (46.1 overs; J Marshall 125* Hopkins 66; Plunkett 2-33) England lions lost by six wickets

By Charles Randall

Lions captain Rob Key predicted that the two-match one-day series against New Zealand A at Palmerston North would be very difficult and he was proved right by a second comprehensive defeat today.

With Luke Wright, an important all-rounder, and Mark Davies, the most effective bowler, both out of the tour to rest ankle injuries, the Lions did look vulnerable against an experienced home side, captained by wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins, a senior international.

Key tried a different tactic on winning the toss by batting — his decision to field first had backfired on Saturday when 373 runs were conceded in a 35-run defeat — but an undefeated 125 in 112 balls by Jamie Marshall, Hamish’s twin, again settled the issue in style.

Lions’ total was built around Joe Denly’s 68 off 78 balls, giving himself a 23rd birthday present to remember, a welcome success in his hitherto anonymous tour. The key dismissal was the in-form Graham Napier, caught on the boundary for a brisk 22, and only Jonathan Trott, with 48 off 51 balls, stayed long. Though Ben Scott batted extremely well for 31 off 24 balls later in the innings, too many batsmen failed to build on good starts, including Key, Napier, Samit Patel and Steve Moore. The quick departure of Eoin Morgan, bowled for a duck, was another serious blow.

Lions needed the sort of backbone provided by Marshall’s well-judged century, as effective as Peter Ingram’s spectacular century in the previous game. Liam Plunkett was the pick of the Lions bowling in the absence of Wright and Davies, getting ride of Ingram for 38. Robbie Joseph suffered again, bowling only four overs for 29 after his shell-shocked Saturday, when his two wickets cost 89 off 10 overs.

Lions felt they were robbed in the Test series, but they could have no complaints about the one-dayers. The last match of the tour is a Twenty20 game at New Plymouth on Thursday.

Picture courtesy of Getty Images