Chopra helps Warks close on win

Varun Chopra hit a century to bat Warwickshire into a winning position on the third day of the important LV=County Championship clash with Somerset at Taunton.

The experienced opener, who boasts a double hundred at the ground, hit a solid 117 off 264 balls, with 12 fours and a six as his team ran up 322 for seven declared in their second innings to lead by 403

Rikki Clarke contributed 83 and Tim Ambrose 54 after Warwickshire had been 82 for four at one stage. Somerset contributed to their own problems with dropped catches and will need to bat well to escape with a draw. They closed on one without loss.

An attritional morning's cricket between two teams with title aspirations began half an hour late because of a shower with Warwickshire on one without loss, leading by 82 runs.

Somerset's bowlers initially displayed greater accuracy than in the first innings and it was 10 for one in the 12th over when Ian Westwood was well caught at second slip by Marcus Trescothick, diving to his left, off Lewis Gregory for seven.

The home side looked to be getting back into the game when five runs later Will Porterfield edged Alfonso Thomas through to wicketkeeper Alex Barrow.

Jonathan Trott was also caught behind fencing at a delivery from Peter Trego, having made 14, and at 44 for three, Warwickshire were in danger of losing their advantage.

Chopra and Sam Hain took the total to 77 at lunch, but in the second over after the interval Hain was well caught low down by Trego at first slip off Thomas for 21.

The patience shown by Chopra on a slow pitch was rewarded when he pulled successive boundaries off Craig Overton to reach a half-century off 145 balls, with five fours and a six.

Ambrose provided more aggressive support, reaching 50 off 73 deliveries, with 10 fours. The fifth-wicket stand was worth 87 when he was caught at short-leg for 54 off the first over bowled by off-spinner Johann Myburgh.

Rikki Clarke, on one, was badly dropped by George Dockrell at mid-wicket off a Myburgh full toss and profited to help take the score to 193 for five at tea.

Somerset's fielding had let them down in the first innings. It was not Dockrell's day as he failed to threaten on a wearing pitch and saw a short ball disappear over mid-wicket for six to complete Clarke's half-century off 68 balls.

By then Warwickshire's lead was over 300. Somerset took the second new ball at 248 for five, already knowing they would face a stiff final day task.

Chopra, on 84, survived a straightforward chance to Thomas at fine leg off Gregory as the home side wilted in the evening sunshine. A well-constructed century, hugely valuable to his side, was reached with a pulled four off Gregory.

Clarke went on the attack against some tired bowling and had hit 11 fours and a six when lofting Gregory to long-on where James Hildreth took the catch. The lead then was 398.

When Richard Jones was caught at point off Gregory, Warwickshire declared leaving Somerset four overs to negotiate before the close. Chopra had batted for just short of six hours.