Bopara the Lion king
Ravi Bopara smashed a stunning 168 then took career best one-day figures of 4-43 as England Lions thrashed West Indies A by 124 runs to book a place in the final of the triangular series.
The Essex man came to the crease with England Lions in dire trouble at 14 for three but quickly made a mockery of the scoreboard with 23 fours and two sixes, one of which landed on top of the Graeme Hick Pavilion as England Lions were bowled out for 345.
Bopara then took four wickets, one less than Peter Trego who added 5-40 to the entertaining 73 he smashed earlier in the day, as West Indies A were dismissed for 221.
It was all so different on a blustery morning at New Road where Andrew Gale won the toss elected to bat first - a decision he might have regretted after nicking behind the first ball of the innings as England Lions made the worst start possible.
Jonathan Trott went in the same fashion five balls later as Gavin Tonge claimed his second scalp in his first over.
Worse was to come, however, with England Lions plunging further into the mire when Ian Bell became the third caught behind victim with Lionel Baker the successful bowler.
Bopara joined Steven Davies and the pair counter-attacked with a flurry of boundaries in a run-a-ball fifty partnership that kickstarted the recovery.
Bopara's driving was a particular highlight while Davies, who has looked in good touch this series without going on to make a big score, was his normal elegent self before departing for 34 to an airy waft which flew straight to Anthony Martin at gully to leave the Lions 82 for four in the 18th over.
New batsman Darren Stevens, who top-scored in the win over India A on Thursday, carried on his fine form to dominate a 66-run stand with Bopara - some feat considering how well the Essex man was playing.
Sweeping powerfully during his rapid 43, Stevens looked destined for a successive half-century before tamely falling caught and bowled to Imran Khan.
The dismissal prompted Bopara into a merciless attack on the bowling - one that would not have taken place had Devon Smith not dropped him twice in the 32nd over.
They proved costly errors as Bopara coasted to his hundred five overs later with an imperious pull shot which was the cue for an onslaught on the West Indies bowling.
The Essex all-rounder hit the turbo boost button and smote 68 runs from the next 32 balls. He carted Russell for a huge six but was most severe on Baker, smashing him for four consecutive boundaries as he raced past 150.
With England Lions 307 for five and Bopara eyeing a double hundred, he perished to an excellent catch on the midwicket boundary by Kevin Stoute.
Trego had played his part in the 159-run stand with Bopara and carried on dishing out the punishment with 10 fours and a six before he was bowled trying something cute against Tonge, who finished with 4-69 as five wickets fell in the space of 22 balls.
It was Bopara and Trego who did the damage when West Indies attempted an unlikely chase.
After Chris Woakes clean bowled Smith in the third over, the tourists made steady progress until Trego took two wickets in consecutive overs to reduce the batting side to 57 for three at the end of the 11th over.
Darren Bravo, half-brother of Dwayne, and Kevin Stoute mounted a spirited recovery worth 95 runs before Bopara brought their potentially threatening partnership to a close.
He first bowled Bravo for 62 then deceived Stoute, who made two more than his team-mate, with a slower delivery which made a mess of the stumps as West Indies began to fold.
Bopara then inflicted the same dismissal on Russell before picking up his fourth wicket when Chadwick Walton drilled a catch to Woakes at mid-on.
The stage was left to Trego who took the remaining three wickets, winning the race with Bopara to claim a five-for and completing a fine day for the Somerset all-rounder.