Warwickshire v Essex: Leaders closing in on title
PUBLISHED: 18:22 13 September 2017
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Essex’s advance towards the Specsavers County Championship title has included some spectacular days – and this one took them a big stride towards glory as they built a commanding position against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Replying to 201, Ryan ten Doeschate’s men made 369-9, a lead of 168, before declaring late in the day to give Warwickshire two awkward overs batting.
The home side survived those unscathed on seven without loss but will have to bat with a resilience that has invariably been sorely lacking from them this season to get out of this hole.
With nearest rivals Lancashire in trouble, having followed on at Taunton, Essex are on the threshold of the title.
With plenty of time at their disposal, Essex’s batsmen built a position from which they will aim to close out victory on the third day.
It was a collective effort led by Varun Chopra (98, 181 balls, 15 fours), Dan Lawrence (78, 130, 14) and James Foster (68, 107, 12) to which all the top eight, other than the skipper, contributed.
After bowling well as a unit, the Division One leaders batted well as a unit, sustaining pressure on their opponents. The stuff of champions.
Essex resumed on the second day on 69 without loss and lost two wickets in a morning.
Opening pair Chopra and Nick Browne added 72 before the latter (24, 65 balls) edged Keith Barker to second slip.
Tom Westley batted sweetly for 28 (40 balls) until he nicked England team-mate Chris Woakes behind, after which Chopra and Lawrence put on 92 in 29 overs.
The princely Chopra was within two runs of a century against his former team-mates when he perished lbw to medium-pacer Matt Lamb.
Lawrence’s aggressive innings threatened to take the game away from Warwickshire rapidly but the beleaguered home side stuck to their task and hit back with two wickets in four balls for Ryan Sidebottom.
Lawrence cut to gully and ten Doeschate played on for a third-ball duck and when Ravi Bopara fell lbw to Barker, Essex had lost four wickets for 51 runs in 17 overs.
But Foster and Simon Harmer (24, 65 balls) calmly eased the total upward with a partnership of 76 in 23 overs.
Woakes ended that stand with an in-ducker which pinned Harmer and Neil Wagner edged Barker then, after Foster fell lbw to Jeetan Patel, Essex pulled out. Tomorrow they could be pulling out the corks on the champagne.