Chopra makes Lancashire toil
Varun Chopra ensured Warwickshire absorbed the loss of England pair Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott with a stylish 113 that frustrated defending champions Lancashire on the opening day of their LV= County Championship match at Edgbaston.
Warwickshire reached stumps on 289 for four, Chopra having driven impressively on his way to his second century of the season, which left Stephen Moore regretting dropping him at second slip on 51.
The chance, off Ajmal Shahzad, went quickly but at catchable height to Moore. His lapse was to prove costly as Chopra moved confidently to his fifth century in three seasons since he joined Warwickshire from Essex, but his first at Edgbaston.
Chopra spent valuable time earlier in the year playing first-class cricket for Tamil Union in Sri Lanka, where the opposition regularly opened the bowling with spinners in an attempt to unsettle him.
That experience served Chopra well against Lancashire’s two slow left-armers, Simon Kerrigan and Gary Keedy, who returned combined figures of 8-9 the last time they operated in Birmingham.
This was a much better batting surface and both Chopra and Ian Westwood, who struck 70, justified the decision of Jim Troughton to bat first with an opening stand of 168, the highest first-wicket partnership in Division One this season.
It was hard going early on against Shahzad and Lancashire captain Glen Chapple, but once they had seen off the new ball Chopra and Westwood accelerated.
Both reached 50 from 113 balls with left-hander Westwood, recalled to fill one of the gaps left by Bell and Trott’s return to England action, striking five fours to Chopra’s four.
Westwood, who used his feet well to the spinners, did not give a chance but was first to go when he followed one from Luke Procter that he did not need to play and was taken by Paul Horton at first slip.
Chopra moved confidently through the nineties with consecutive cover-driven fours off Keedy before tucking the spinner for a single into the leg side to bring up a 218-ball hundred.
Will Porterfield was the main aggressor in a second-wicket stand of 56 in 16 overs but, having struck five fours in his 34, the Ireland captain was caught at slip by Horton pushing forward to Kerrigan.
Chopra soon followed when he pulled Kerrigan to midwicket and Troughton’s poor form continued when he was bowled round his legs by Shahzad for his fifth single-figure score in seven innings when the new ball was taken.