Westley and Bopara dominate
Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara struck half-centuries as Essex dominated a shortened day's play in their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Gloucestershire at Chelmsford.
In the 44.5 overs' play that was possible, they moved from 30 for two to 177 for three in reply to their opponent's total of 409 for five declared.
Bopara was dismissed for 64 after sharing in a century stand but Westley remained secure to reach the close within 18 runs of his second hundred of the season following his effort against Cambridge UCCE last week.
As on the previous day, the morning session was washed out and Essex were not able to resume their innings until 2:55pm.
Westley was soon finding the extra-cover boundary off James Fuller for the first runs of the day while Bopara lofted the same bowler to the midwicket fence as well as picking up another four runs at the expense of Will Gidman.
Both accumulated steadily on a benign pitch, Westley greeting the arrival of paceman Liam Norwell with two boundaries in an over.
The tempo was maintained as Bopara sent the total into three figures on the stroke of tea with a glorious straight drive off David Payne.
The impressive Westley reached his half-century with a 10th boundary, a punishing on-drive off medium pacer Benny Howell.
Bopara reached the same landmark in the next over from Payne when he picked up two runs with a neat flick off his legs into the midwicket region.
As the batsmen continued to dominate, Bopara, whose fifty contained five fours, brought up the century partnership with a cover-driven boundary when Howell over-pitched.
Soon afterwards, however, the visitors claimed a breakthrough when Howell trapped Bopara lbw for 64 to end a 116-run stand.
That was to prove Gloucestershire's solitary success of the day as another stoppage for bad light ended play with Westley on 82 and Mark Pettini 18.
Westley's 141-ball, stay spanning 201 minutes, has so far brought 12 boundaries.