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Brilliant Bears brush aside Red Rose

Lancashire CCC

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Varun Chopra's century proved crucial as Warwickshire clinched a second Clydesdale Bank 40 final appearance in three years with a resounding 23-run win over Lancashire at Old Trafford.

Opening batsman Chopra anchored the 2010 winners' score of 250 for six with 110 off 124 balls, including nine fours and a six.

Lancashire then crumbled to 90 for five in reply as they went on to lose for the first time in seven matches at Old Trafford this season, with Warwickshire setting up a Lord's final against Hampshire on September 15.

This was also Lancashire's 11th semi-final defeat in the last 12 in all forms of limited-overs cricket as they were bowled out for 227 with two balls left.

New-ball bowler Neil Carter excelled with 4-38, while Paul Horton top-scored for the hosts with 78 off 63 deliveries.

Although not at his fluent best, Chopra shared 126 inside 23 overs with opening partner Will Porterfield, who struck 67 after Jim Troughton elected to bat.

Varun Chopra

Varun Chopra hits out en route to a ton that helped Warwickshire set up a Clydesdale Bank 40 final against Hampshire at Lord's

Chopra steered the innings - he fell off the last ball of the penultimate over - as the Bears posted a season's best total.

But Lancashire will have been comfortable at the halfway stage after restricting the damage in the latter half of the innings.

Ajmal Shahzad took three wickets, including two with successive deliveries in the 39th, to confirm his place as the competition's leading wicket-taker with 21.

After Darren Maddy was caught at deep backward square-leg, he had Chris Woakes caught behind and Chopra caught at long-on to finish with 3-52 from eight overs. Gary Keedy also struck twice.

Poor shot selection was then a major factor in the Lightning's demise.

Tom Smith holed out to mid-on and Stephen Moore, who had earlier taken three catches, was caught behind flashing outside off-stump, both to Carter.

Substitute wicketkeeper Richard Johnson took the catch to dismiss Moore after being pulled out of a Birmingham League match following a thigh injury to Tim Ambrose after the toss had been made.

Lancashire had to give Warwickshire special dispensation to field a substitute.

Steven Croft dragged Chris Wright, who took 3-48, onto his stumps after trying to hit a third boundary in a row as the hosts fell to 50 for three.

And the situation did not get any better as Karl Brown uppercut the same bowler to deep point before Ashwell Prince top-edged an ugly swipe to mid-off from Ian Blackwell.

Blackwell then removed Gareth Cross, sweeping, lbw before Paul Best's spin accounted for Shahzad, who was caught at backward point on the reverse-sweep.

Horton and Glen Chapple shared 37 in four overs for the eighth wicket but it was too little, too late. Both men holed out to mid-on and mid-off respectively off Carter inside the last six overs.

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