Chopra rediscovers his touch at just the right time for leaders
Warwickshire 296-3 Hampshire
One after another, Warwickshire's players have stepped forward this season to accept responsibility. And yesterday, having fretted in the shadows for the best part of five months, Varun Chopra decided it was high time he took centre stage in a Championship production that looks increasingly likely to scoop the top award.
Chopra, the former England Under-19 opener, began this campaign like a man possessed, scoring two double centuries in his first three innings. Since then, though, he has not done much more than play bit parts, reaching 50 only four further times, in 23 innings, while averaging 27 between late April and early September.
Last week, it was Ian Westwood and Jim Troughton who emerged from lean trots to score hundreds against Nottinghamshire. This time, Chopra did the business by reaching three figures and sharing in a mighty third-wicket stand of 188 with another, entirely predictable century-maker, Shiv Chanderpaul, to strengthen Warwickshire's grip on a title that will be theirs – regardless of what happens elsewhere this week – if they beat Hampshire and shed no more than two bonus points.
The Bears may not drop much at all on the evidence of events so far. Hampshire, needing a big win of their own to have any chance of avoiding relegation, were looking increasingly forlorn by last night. And no wonder, really, after five catches were spilt yesterday – three of them during an error-strewn morning session when Warwickshire's bold decision to bat in cloudy, humid conditions could have backfired.
The three "lives" given to William Porterfield did not cost the home side too much, in terms of runs, with the Ireland international making only 28. But the failure of slip fielder Michael Carberry to cling on to an awkward two-hander, when Chopra had made just two, and his dreadful miss to reprieve Chanderpaul on 36, were the stuff of nightmares.
Carberry had to wait a long time for a little relief – Dimitri Mascarenhas wisely taking his colleagues out of the equation by bowling Chopra, between bat and pad, for 109.
Warwickshire's policy all season has been to bat big, whenever possible, and not worry too much about the scoring rate. And it has worked, too, with four of their nine victories coming by an innings. Chanderpaul, having taken 157 balls over the 59th first-class century of his career, perhaps overdid the patience by adding four more runs from the next 40 deliveries. Like Warwickshire, though, he is interested only in the end result.
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
Dylan Hartley faces anxious wait on Lions ban
The Calvin report: Stirring Champions League final shows how far English game must advance
Borussia Dortmund 1 Bayern Munich 2 match report: Arjen Robben proves Mr Reliant for for Bayern
England's versatile quartet to replace old rearguard
Boxing: Revenge for Carl Froch with unanimous decision over Mikkel Kessler
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.