Bopara shines in Lions victory
England Lions 345 (Bopara 168, Trego 73, Tonge 4-69) beat West Indies A 221 (Stoute 64, Bravo 62, Trego 5-40, Bopara 4-43) by 124 runs
Ravi Bopara missed out on selection for England's forthcoming one-day internationals against Bangladesh, but showed his worth as a limited-overs player with a starring performance in a 124-run win for the England Lions over West Indies A at New Road. Entering with his side in deep trouble at 14 for 3 in the 4th over, Bopara rallied the lower middle order on his way to 168 from 140 balls as the Lions were bowled out for 345 in the final over.
Bopara then returned with the ball in West Indies A's chase, breaking a threatening 95-run stand for the 4th wicket between Darren Bravo and Kevin Stoute, both of whom had passed fifty. He added the wickets of Chadwick Walton and Andre Russell to finish with 4 for 43 as West Indies A were bowled out for 221 in 40 overs.
Bopara's efforts with the bat were superbly backed up by Peter Trego, who also put in a strong allround performance. Trego slammed 73 from just 55 balls as he and Bopara swung the momentum back for the Lions in a 159-run stand that was compiled at more than nine runs an over. Trego then bettered Bopara's bowling figures as he picked up wickets at regular intervals, castling Anthony Martin to claim his fifth scalp and wrap up the game.
That wicket sealed a remarkable counterattack, led by the two allrounders, after West Indies' opening bowlers, Gavin Tonge and Lionel Baker, had run through the Lions' experienced top order to reduce them to 14 for 3 within the first four overs.
Tonge had Andrew Gale and Jonathan Trott caught behind in the very first over of the game before Baker also found the edge of Ian Bell's bat in his second over. Bopara and Steve Davies steadied the innings with a 68-run partnership, and after Davies was removed by Russell swashbuckling innings from Darren Stevens and Trego kept up the momentum.
It appeared that Bravo and Stoute might inspire a similar fightback when they rescued West Indies from a shaky 57 for 3 with a pair of enterprising half-centuries. But once they were dismissed, both bowled by Bopara, the innings quickly unravelled.
"It wasn't the best of starts for us but I wanted to come out and play my natural game regardless of the score and it worked well today," said Bopara. "It's always nice to score runs and to do it when you've got selectors watching is obviously pleasing and hopefully if I carry on playing like this it will lead to a place in the full England squad again.
"I think we've played good cricket so far in this series and it's great to have made the final, we want to carry on playing smart cricket and we will be confident that we can win on Thursday."