Bopara hits ton at Headingley
Ravi Bopara scored an unbeaten 117 for Essex on the third day of their County Championship match against Yorkshire at Headingley.
But the visitors were still bowled out for 199 as Ryan Sidebottom claimed figures of five for 30, and Yorkshire's first-innings lead of 47 soon grew as the result of a century opening stand between Joe Root and Joe Sayers.
Yorkshire closed on 144 for two in 45 overs when they were 191 runs in front.
Bopara's fine innings only ended when he finally ran out of partners but his hundred still failed by one run to take Essex to a batting bonus point.
The England batsman was 26 and James Foster nine when Essex started out on 72 for five - still 164 in arrears - and Bopara knew a big innings was required of him if his side were to stay in the match.
Both batsmen took boundaries off Ajmal Shahzad, who was sharp but too erratic running in from the Kirkstall Lane end, and when he was replaced by Steve Patterson his first ball was cut for four by Foster to raise three figures in the 40th over.
Sidebottom ended the stand at 107 by having Foster caught at second slip by Anthony McGrath but Bopara was looking well set and upon Shahzad's return to the attack he cover drove him to go to his half-century off 117 balls with eight fours.
In the same over, Bopara survived a difficult chance, edging to third slip where Phil Jaques dived far to his right but could not make the ball stick.
There was reward for Shahzad, however, when he beat David Masters for pace and plucked out his off stump which speared itself back into the ground, but Tim Phillips - batting with a runner because of back spasms - hung around for 43 deliveries while making seven before he was caught at point off Sidebottom.
Maurice Chambers was lbw driving at Sidebottom to reduce Essex to 151 for nine but once again Yorkshire found themselves unable to polish off an innings and Bopara successfully nursed Tymal Mills through a stand of 48 to which the last man contributed two.
Although batting with care, Bopara wasted few scoring opportunities and after gliding a leg-side ball from Shahzad for four he on-drove him to the rope to complete his century from 201 deliveries with 15 fours - a third boundary following in the same over.
The stand only ended because Bopara, in attempting to retain the strike, drove McGrath too hard to Patterson at mid-on and set off for a single but Mills could not beat the fielder's throw to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Root and Sayers made a slow start for Yorkshire but once the 50 had been reached in 18 overs they began to go for their shots and Root particularly impressed with the quality of his driving.
A cheeky reverse sweep at Tom Westley took him to his 50 off 77 balls with eight fours and a glorious off-drive at the expense of Chambers made it a century stand of which Root had contributed 66.
But when he had added only one more run he was caught down the legside by Foster off Greg Smith with the score on 106.
Progress slowed down again once Root had departed and Jaques fell at 134, lbw sweeping at Westley, but skipper Andrew Gale signalled his intentions by on-driving his second ball for six.
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