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Denly could lose World Cup spot as opportunities run dry - Cricbuzz - Cricbuzz

WORLD CUP 2019

The first ODI in Oval was washed out, Denly was benched for the second in Southampton and then in Bristol, the chase was wrapped up before he got to bat

The first ODI in Oval was washed out, Denly was benched for the second in Southampton and then in Bristol, the chase was wrapped up before he got to bat © Getty

Three full tosses, a loopy delivery on a length, a good one on about middle stump and a quicker variation that almost took an edge.

Six balls of leg spin sent down in the 29th over. The Bristol County Ground is no friend to slow bowlers, with its short straight hits and unresponsive surface. But at 165 for four, Imam-ul-Haq well set on 81 and Asif Ali fresh to the crease on three, there was a chance for Joe Denly to state his case, playing as he was instead of chief leg spinner Adil Rashid. That was his lot.

It certainly was not an over encouraging his skipper to give him one more. Eoin Morgan's captaincy hinges on smarts and a gambler's instinct and the idea of giving Denly another over seemed at odds with both. Denly's six cost nine runs but, longer term, they may also have cost him a World Cup spot.

That may sound a tad melodramatic, but let's take a look at the events leading up to this match. A week ago, day before the first England-Pakistan ODI at the Oval, Trevor Bayliss came out and said another spinning allrounder, Liam Dawson, was being considered as an outside addition to the World Cup squad, having not been named in either the preliminary 15 for the tournament or the wider 17 for these ODIs. No real problem there - Denly had the chance to prove himself at the Oval.

But not only did rain rob him off that opportunity, but he was sat on the sidelines for the second fixture at Southampton as England got their series off to a winning start. Then, of course, there was Tuesday. If anything, it is not the bowling (or lack of) that points towards what might be Denly's imminent exclusion from the World Cup squad, but his batting. Again - lack of.

England batted 44.5 overs and down to number six. Within that, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes went in ahead of Morgan which is not usually how the batting lines up. The appetite was there to give Moeen and Stokes some time in the middle for the first time this series. The same courtesy was not offered to Denly - in this set-up primarily for his batting even if he is selected for his bowling - whose frustration will have been compounded by having his pads on as he was due in next before Morgan and Moeen knocked off the winning runs.

The two permutations most likely at this juncture both involve dropping Denly. One could see Dawson drafted in at a late stage given he is similar type of player who turns the ball the same way, with more control. Or, the selectors may sense the chance to bring Jofra Archer into the squad of 15 without losing the talent that got England to this tournament as favourites: Liam Plunkett's middle over skills, Tom Curran's death bowling and David Willey's ability to swing the white ball along with the variety of his left-arm action.

The latter seems the most sensible option for a few reasons. Should one of Rashid or Moeen suffer an injury that keeps them out of a couple of matches, Joe Root could offer assistance. Anything more serious and then Dawson could be called up outright given injury replacements can be made at any point during a World Cup.

Also, with Mark Wood and Chris Woakes needing to be managed given their respective ongoing ankle and knee issues, having four other pace options, along with Stokes, will make any rotation more manageable. Woakes' return to form with four for 67 was a welcome boost on that front.

However, Denly's lack of action did make this fixture seem a tad pointless. In a period where England need to learn as much as they can, the takeaways from this match are nothing new. The County Ground is a batsman's dream; Woakes is quite clearly the leader of the attack; Jason Roy hits the ball bloody hard; Jonny Bairstow might hit it even harder; England are kings of the chase, especially on their own patch where they have not failed when batting second in four years.

Was this a missed opportunity to try new things? It would have been good to see how Archer dealt with a flat pitch and such unfavourable dimensions while bowling a full set of 10? Instead, he killed time at home putting up Instagram stories of his fish tank. As it happens, he will return for the next fixture at Trent Bridge on Friday and it is likely Bairstow will be rested.

Perhaps though, this was a game not for fine-tuning plans or defining roles, but about confidence. Not only did England manage to chase down 359 with six wickets and 31 balls to spare - they did it without Jos Buttler. Their second-highest chase achieved without their greatest ever ODI batsman. It was a victory that sends one heck of a message to the rest of the world.

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