Openers hand Eagles last-eight spot
Openers Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara hit half-centuries as Essex Eagles booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Friends Provident t20 with a seven-wicket win over Gloucestershire Gladiators at Chelmsford.
Cook made 73 from 53 deliveries and outpaced Bopara, who weighed in with 59 from 46 balls, as Essex reeled in the visitors’ 162 for five with eight balls to spare.
But Cook, who struck 10 fours, needed a huge slice of luck before making an impact when, after making only three, he was dropped off successive deliveries.
Wicketkeeper Jon Batty spilled the first diving to his left and then David Payne failed to hold on to a sharp caught and bowled.
He made good of his escape, though, going on to complete an entertaining fifty with three successive fours off spinner Aaron Redmond, and sharing in an opening partnership of 119 in a shade under 14 overs.
Bopara, whose innings included two sixes among his seven boundaries, was finally bowled by off-spinner Richard Dawson as he attempted to cut.
Meanwhile, Cook was bowled by Payne before Matt Walker smashed Alex Gidman for two sixes to seal the win in emphatic style with his unbeaten 14 coming from just three deliveries.
Gloucestershire's innings was not short on consistency, with five of their batsmen getting beyond 20.
But no-one was able to progress in the manner of Cook and Bopara to make substantial contributions.
Chris Dent emerged top-scorer with 31 from 26 balls, three of which he despatched for six, before he was caught at long-on.
Maurice Chambers starred with the ball for the Eagles, concdeing just costing 18 runs from thre overs, while he bowled Gidman after his 30 from 18 balls had given Gloucestershire a flying start.