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Chopra makes history with second successive double-ton

Stumps Warwickshire 201 (Wright 5-62) and 411 for 3 (Chopra 223*, Yousuf 81) v Worcestershire 375 (Moeen 92, Rankin 5-57) v
Scorecard

Many fine batsmen have represented Warwickshire in the 108 seasons in which they have been playing first-class cricket: Amiss, Bell, Lara, Kanhai, Kallicharran and Trott to name but half-a-dozen. But, until Warwickshire's second innings here, no-one in the history of the club had ever scored double-centuries in successive first-class games.

Varun Chopra changed all that. Following on from his match-defining innings of 210 against Somerset last week, Chopra finished the day at New Road unbeaten on 223. It means he has taken his season's tally to 491 already and has raised the prospect that he could become the first man since Graeme Hick, in 1988, to score 1,000 runs before the end of May. By contrast, Chopra managed just 409 runs in 18 first-class innings last year.

A glance at the scorecard might persuade the casual observer that the hot sun has drawn the sting from this pitch. But it's not so. The extravagant swing of the first day has all but disappeared, but the pitch continues to provide copious assistance to the seamers with the bounce becoming ever more irregular.

Worcestershire didn't bowl badly, either. Maybe they could have tightened up their line and length a fraction and their fielding did wilt a little as they realised the game was slipping away. But generally they probed in demanding areas and, another day, would have enjoyed far more success. They simply enjoyed no fortune at all. Ball beat bat regularly and Mohammad Yousuf and Jim Troughton both sustained painful blows to the body and gloves.

Most of all, however, there was Chopra. He was quite magnificent. From the moment he cut the first ball of the day for four to the slog-sweep over midwicket with which he rounded things off, he rose above proceedings as the cathedral here looms over the ground. It's hard to believe that, before the championship season started, he had made just two centuries in his 100 first-class innings. He's already broken Ian Bell's Warwickshire record (previously 480 runs scored in 2005) for the most first-class runs in April.

The closest Worcestershire came to dismissing him was from a couple of run-out opportunities, though he was also, technically, dropped when Alan Richardson parried a desperately difficult chance over the long-leg boundary for six. By then Chopra already had 103.

Perhaps we should not get carried away. Many batsmen enjoy golden patches of form and he will, no doubt, come up against more demanding attacks. But, over the last 10 days or so, Chopra has looked every inch an international-quality player and if he can retain the balance and patience he is showing at present, he will surely force his way into the England Lions team this summer.

Chopra's contribution has turned this game on its head. When he strode to the crease in the second innings, Worcestershire held a lead of 174 and had realistic hopes of an innings victory. Now they are facing the prospect of defeat. Batting on the fourth day will not be easy and, if Warwickshire's four-pronged attack rediscover the form that saw them dismiss Somerset in 88 balls last week, Worcestershire face a desperately difficult task. Indeed, Troughton's most difficult task on the final day might be judging his declaration.

No-one but Chopra found batting remotely straightforward. After Ian Westwood departed in the day's fourth over, scooping a catch to point as he attempted to drive one that was never there for the shot, William Porterfield endured a torturous innings. After taking 29 balls to get off the mark, he was eventually adjudged caught behind as he attempted to pull. Replays suggested the ball hit only his shoulder.

Yousuf struggled, too. Though he helped Chopra add 185 in 55 overs, he was beaten frequently and survived several edges that dropped in front of the slips. Some of the old timing returned as he settled in, but he never looked secure and it was no surprise when he finally edged a drive to gully.

Jim Troughton survived something of a barrage of short balls, but settled in to help add 88 in 20 overs as Warwickshrie stretched their lead to 237. But the day was all about Chopra and the match-winning position he has earned for his side.

Worcs 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st6DKH MitchellJG Cameron
2nd40VS SolankiJG Cameron
3rd7MM AliJG Cameron
4th41MM AliAN Kervezee
5th9AN KervezeeMG Pardoe
6th66GM AndrewAN Kervezee
7th10GM AndrewOB Cox
8th10DG WrightOB Cox
9th0MS MasonOB Cox
10th10A RichardsonOB Cox