Bopara century keeps Essex in contention
Essex 226 for 3 (Bopara 115*) beat Surrey 223 for 7 (Solanki 86) by seven wickets
Ravi Bopara's brilliant 115 not out from 94 balls, well supported by 65 from Greg Smith, swept Essex to a seven-wicket win against Surrey at The Oval which keeps them well in contention in Yorkshire Bank 40 Group B.
Essex hunted down Surrey's 223 for 7 with a comfortable 4.5 overs to spare for their fifth victory in the eighth of their 12 scheduled group matches.
Bopara and Smith came together at 15 for 2, after Mark Pettini had been caught at cover for 5 and Hamish Rutherford athletically held at the wicket on 9, and their stand of 152 in 25.3 overs was a perfect demonstration of controlled acceleration.
It was also an Essex third-wicket record against Surrey in all List A one-day cricket, and when Smith skied his 77th ball, from Jon Lewis, to deep mid-on in search of his fourth six it merely signalled a final onslaught from Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate, who added a further 59 in a mere 4.3 overs.
Bopara reached his 90-ball century during a 34th over, bowled by Zafar Ansari, that cost 21 runs. Both Bopara and ten Doeschate hit a six and a four in the over, and the end came soon afterwards. Ten Doeschate's unbeaten 20 took him just 14 balls, with a six and three fours, while Bopara hit four sixes and 11 fours in a superb eighth List A hundred.
Surrey, with virtually no chance of qualification for the semi-finals next month, opted to play a youthful team and rested key one-day players Jade Dernbach, Azhar Mahmood, Gareth Batty and Steven Davies ahead of Tuesday's Friends Life t20 quarter-final against Somerset.
One of two teenagers given a senior debut, 17-year-old batsman Dominic Sibley, had a game to remember for the wrong reason after being stretchered off with a badly cut knee early in the game. Sibley, still at Whitgift School, suffered a two inch deep gash as he dived for the crease to avoid being run out during the fourth over of Surrey's innings and, after ompleting another single when partner Vikram Solanki called him for a run several balls later, he signalled to the dressing room that something was badly wrong.
The game was held up for almost ten minutes as Sibley, who had made just two runs from seven balls faced, was first treated and then hoisted on to a stretcher. He left the ground immediately to go to hospital for stitches in the gaping wound. Sibley reportedly told the Surrey dressing room that he had no idea how the freak injury occurred, as his batting pads should have protected the knee.
Solanki went on to top-score for Surrey with 86 from 95 balls, with ten fours, before being bowled swinging at Reece Topley at the start of the 35th over.
Jason Roy fell for 4 just before the Sibley injury incident, caught at slip off Graham Napier, but Gary Wilson added 71 with Solanki and hit left arm paceman Tymal Mills for six in a 46-ball 31 before being held on the deep square leg boundary mis-hitting a pull at the same bowler.
Ansari swung left arm spinner Tim Phillips over midwicket for six in a brisk 31 from 36 balls, and Rory Burns struck an unbeaten 39 from just 25 balls amid a clatter of late wickets in the closing overs, with a pulled six off Napier and three fours. Tom Curran, the 18-year-old son of former Zimbabwe allrounder Kevin Curran and Surrey's other debutant, was run out second ball for one by Bopara's direct hit from mid-off.