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Chopra pleased to define Lions progress

Varun Chopra was happy to finally make a “defining” contribution for England Lions in the ‘Test’ series against Sri Lanka A.

Chopra’s watchful 83 led the tourists away from potential peril at 78 for three on the opening day of the third and final game, which is being played at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium.

The Lions were 172 for five when number three Chopra was lbw to Jeevan Mendis in the over after tea. Captain Chris Woakes and Scott Borthwick then added an unbroken 130 to create a strong position.

Chopra, who hit 58 in the first innings of the opening match but has twice since failed to build on starts, said: “I’ve been fairly pleased with the way I’ve been batting on tour without having that team-defining or day-defining total.

“(I’m) obviously disappointed to get out on 80 today, but we’ve had a good day and hopefully can build on it tomorrow.”

Chopra came to the crease in the fourth over when Sam Robson fell to Lahiru Gamage, the hosts’ outstanding bowler today.

Varun Chopra prospers against spin, having overcome a trial by seam in difficult early conditions at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium

He shared solid stands with Alex Lees, James Taylor and Jonny Bairstow before falling one short of registering a half-century alliance alongside Woakes.

Chopra, who encountered tricky early batting conditions once Woakes had won the toss, added: “I think mornings here generally just do a little bit. With the new ball the seamers bowled well.

“The Sri Lankans came in and bowled very well in the first session, but we managed to fight through it and then the runs came easier as the day went on.”

Chopra and company also had to face plenty of spin despite conditions that persuaded the Lions to pick paceman Tymal Mills in place of slow bowler Ollie Rayner.

“We expect a lot of spin coming at us as a team,” Chopra said. “We’ve practiced hard against it and it’s nice to put a few things you’ve been practicing (into practice) out in the middle today.”

Following Chopra’s downfall, Woakes and Borthwick came to the fore with 84 and 59 respectively.

Chopra explained that a pitch with more bounce than those the previous two ‘Tests’ were played on was eventually welcome.

“I think the carry was better here, which obviously helps the bowlers – it makes nicks carry,” he added.

“I think once you get in as a batsman you prefer a bit of pace and bounce on the ball as well.

“But playing that practice game here helped, so we knew the conditions a little bit, but there's definitely a little bit more bounce than Kandy and Dambulla here.”

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