Sensational Chopra leads Warks rally
Varun Chopra continued a remarkable revival in his career with an unbeaten 223 as Warwickshire turned the tables on Worcestershire in the LV= County Championship Division One clash at New Road.
The 23-year-old former Essex opener became the first batsman in his county’s history to score double centuries in back-to-back championship fixtures.
Unlike last week at Taunton, where his 210 led to a crushing victory over Somerset by an innings and 382 runs, Warwickshire had to recover from a sizeable first-innings deficit before breaking the grip held by their neighbours for two days.
Trailing by 174, the Edgbaston side moved into a potentially significant lead of 237 when closing on 411 for three after a third-wicket partnership of 185 by Chopra and new overseas signing Mohammad Yousuf.
Chopra has reconnected with the promise of his teens when he made a century for club team llford at 16, scored 106 against Gloucestershire on his championship debut at 18 and posted two hundreds in a match for England Under-19s against India at Taunton in 2006.
Graham Gooch was among those who expected big things from the batsman but he was to score only one more championship century for Essex before seeking a new challenge with Warwickshire last year.
A broken hand then took a chunk out of his first season and he mustered only one half-century in nine matches. However, he worked on his technique in the nets over the winter and is now enjoying the most productive spell of his life.
The way he wore down an experienced Worcestershire attack was a lesson in building an innings. Even when he had momentum, reaching three figures in the last over before lunch, he was prepared to dig in again as he faced 96 balls in making his next fifty.
Conversely, he went big to reach 200 with three boundaries in the space of five balls and in all he hit 32 fours and a six.
Throughout the morning Worcestershire were still pressing hard but Warwickshire lost only two wickets. Ian Westwood sliced a catch to point off Alan Richardson and Will Porterfield was caught behind attempting to hook Gareth Andrew.
Yousuf, the Pakistan Test batsman making his first appearance for Warwickshire, got through a tricky session before lunch on a pitch which still offered a glimmer of hope for the seamers.
After playing and missing at a number of deliveries, Yousuf gradually established his authority with 11 fours and a six in his first championship match since he made a double hundred for Lancashire against Yorkshire in 2008.
Having supported Chopra for three and a half hours, he was finally dislodged for 81 when Daryl Mitchell held a chance at second slip off Andrew. This gave skipper Jim Troughton time to chip in with an unbeaten 42.