Sun shines on Warwickshire and Chopra
Warwickshire 269 for 2 (Chopra 141*, Westwood 65) v Middlesex
Reigning champions Warwickshire enjoyed their best day of the Championship season to date at Uxbridge, where opener Varun Chopra put Middlesex to the sword by hitting an unbeaten 141. The former Essex batsman was twice dropped before getting off the mark and made Middlesex pay by hitting 17 fours and featuring in two century stands as Warwickshire posted a first day total of 269 for 2.
Batting first after winning the toss on the hottest day of the season so far, Warwickshire made the most of a sublime pitch at the Park Road ground and wasteful Middlesex fielders who downed three catches in the opening session.
Chopra, Warwickshire's acting captain in the long-term absence of Jim Troughton who has disc problems in his lower back, was the luckiest recipient after twice being dropped on 0. In the third over of the day from Toby Roland-Jones, Chopra fenced a regulation chance to first slip that Dawid Malan failed to hold. Then, in his next over, Roland-Jones suffered again when Adam Voges failed to hang on to a tougher, throat-high opportunity at third slip.
The poor start by Middlesex probably came as no surprise to their supporters who have yet to see their side win at this venue since making a first-class return here in 2008. In their 10 first-class matches here since, Middlesex have lost three and drawn seven and, on their opening day's form against Warwickshire, appear unlikely to break their Uxbridge duck.
Realising this was his lucky day, Chopra overcame a sticky start to unfurl some attractive straight drives and reach a 138-ball half-century with eight fours. At the other end, his pugnacious opening partner, left-handed Ian Westwood, played the more dominant innings by hitting 10 fours in his 65-ball 50.
He too was dropped when, on 53, he ducked into a bouncer and gloved the ball leg side only to see keeper John Simpson down a tough chance diving away to his right. Once more, Roland-Jones was the unfortunate bowler as Warwickshire went in at lunch on 103 without loss.
Westwood added only five to his lunchtime score of 60 when Roland-Jones finally got his man to make it 113 for 1. Top edging an attempted hook, Westwood skied a comfortable catch to long leg where Malan this time held on - much to the delight of Roland-Jones.
In soaring temperatures, Middlesex reduced the flow of boundaries in the mid-session but Warwickshire remained on top to go in at tea on 171 for 1. After the break, Chopra clipped off his legs against left-arm spinner Ravi Patel for the 12th boundary of his innings to post a 235-ball hundred and raise Warwickshire's 200. It was his third ton of the season.
Without England stars Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, both on Ashes duty, Warwickshire also gave a rare opportunity to former Surrey right-hander Laurie Evans, who looked a worthy stand-in when scoring an eye-catching 37 for his part in the second 113-run stand of the day. His enjoyment was ended abruptly in the 81st over when Neil Dexter, still bowling with the old ball, sent down a looping bouncer that drew Evans into a hook shot that he edged through to the keeper.
It made matters worse for Middlesex that seam bowler Corey Collymore turned his right ankle making a stop in the field at long leg. Then, having just taken the second new ball, Roland-Jones's luckless day continued as he started to hobble on a sore left ankle.