Bopara's second ton keeps Essex on top
Essex 399 and 229 for 3 v Yorkshire 324
Ravi Bopara's second century of the match and an unbeaten 90 from Alastair Cook put Essex firmly in control of their battle against County Championship leaders Yorkshire at Chelmsford. After establishing a first-innings lead of 75, they will go into the final day 304 ahead after reaching the close on 229 for 3 second time around.
Bopara made 102 in a third-wicket stand of 199 with Cook but both needed the benevolence of Anthony McGrath to prosper. McGrath put down each batsman at second slip. Bopara had made 38 when a straightforward catch was spilled before Cook was reprieved on 68, this time a far more difficult chance high to his left. Oliver Hannon-Dalby was the luckless bowler on the first occasion before Tim Bresnan was left cursing his misfortune on the second.
As he had done in the first innings when making 142, Bopara excelled with some glorious drives either side of the wicket. Both batsmen completed 50 with the aid of seven fours but Bopara needed 32 fewer deliveries to do so - 72 to Cook's 104.
Bopara reached his century from a further 63 balls, by which time he had added a further three fours and three sixes, the last of which, a mighty blow over long on at the expense of Adil Rashid, carried him into three figures. The legspinner, however, was to extract his revenge soon afterwards when Bopara was bowled trying to cut.
Although more circumspect, Cook was still quick to seize upon the opportunity to punish the loose delivery as he reached the close on the brink of his first century for Essex at first-class level since 2007. He had so far hit 13 boundaries in an innings spanning 172 deliveries.
Earlier Yorkshire, resuming on 227 for 5, lost their remaining wickets while adding a further 97 before the innings was brought to a close shortly after lunch. Most of those runs were gathered by Rashid who was left stranded on 52 when last man Hannon-Dalby was run out. Between periods of watchful defence, Rashid laced his innings, which lasted 103 balls, with eight boundaries.
Left-arm spinner Tim Phillips claimed two of the remaining wickets, including a return catch to get rid of Bresnan and end an eighth-wicket half-century partnership, to return figures of 4 for 94 from 44 overs. Andy Carter, the fast bowler on loan from Nottinghamshire, provided the main back-up support. His lively and aggressive approach brought him 3 for 77 from 24.1 overs.
Essex were soon in trouble when they began their second innings. Jaik Mickleburgh fell to the first ball of the innings, bowled by Bresnan, and Tom Westley suffered a similar fate against Steve Patterson with the total on 15 - but then Bopara and Cook took over.