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Chopra makes hay as Middlesex toil

Reigning champions Warwickshire enjoyed their best day of the LV= County Championship season to date at Uxbridge as opener Varun Chopra put Middlesex to the sword by hitting an unbeaten 141.

The former Essex batsman was twice dropped before getting off the mark and made Middlesex pay by hitting 17 fours and featuring in two century stands as Warwickshire posted a first day total of 269 for two.

Batting after winning the toss on the hottest day of the campaign so far, Warwickshire made the most of a sublime pitch at the Park Road ground and wasteful Middlesex fielders, who downed three catches in the opening session.

Chopra, Warwickshire's acting captain in the long-term injury absence of Jim Troughton, was the luckiest recipient of the hosts’ unwitting hospitality.

In the third over of the day from Toby Roland-Jones he fenced a regulation chance to first slip that Dawid Malan failed to hold.

Then, in his next over, Roland-Jones suffered again when Adam Voges failed to hang on to a tougher, throat-high opportunity at third slip.

Realising this was his lucky day, Chopra overcame the sticky start to unfurl some attractive straight drives and reach a 138-ball half-century with eight fours.

At the other end, left-handed opening partner Ian Westwood, played the more dominant innings by hitting 10 fours in his 65-ball 50.

He too was dropped when, on 53, ducking into a bouncer and gloving the ball leg-side only to see wicketkeeper John Simpson down a tough chance diving away to his right. Once more, Roland-Jones was the unfortunate bowler as Warwickshire went in at lunch on 103 without loss.

Westwood added only five to his lunchtime score of 60 when Roland-Jones finally got his man, top edging a hook to Malan at long-leg, to make it 113 for one.

In soaring temperatures, Middlesex reduced the flow of boundaries in the middle session but Warwickshire remained on top to go in at tea on 171 without further loss.

After the break, Chopra clipped off his legs against left-arm spinner Ravi Patel for the 12th boundary of his innings to post a 235-ball hundred and raise Warwickshire's 200. It was his third ton of the season.

Warwickshire also handed a rare outing to former Surrey right-hander Laurie Evans, who looked a worthy stand-in for England absentees Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell with an eye-catching 37 as part of a century alliance with Chopra.

Evans’ enjoyment was ended abruptly in the 81st over as Neil Dexter, still bowling with the old ball, sent down a looping bouncer that drew him into a hook shot that was edged through to Simpson.

To round off a miserable day for the hosts, seamers Roland-Jones and Collymore picked up ankle complaints to restrict their involvement with the second new ball.

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