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Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 18:26 UK

Chopra ton puts Essex in control

Essex 318-6 v Gloucestershire

Varun Chopra scored his first hundred in over two years as Essex made a fine start against Gloucestershire, who are bottom of Division Two, at Bristol.

The opener had not reached three figures since making 106 in his debut, against the same opponents in May 2006.

But Gloucestershire's attack was again to his liking as he made 155 from 167 balls before falling to Steve Kirby.

James Foster (68no) helped Chopra add 138 for the fifth wicket and he led his side to 318-6 when bad light arrived.

Anthony Ireland (3-85) claimed the first three Essex wickets to fall and there was also a wicket for left-arm seamer Rod Woodman on his Gloucestershire debut.

After Essex captain Mark Pettini won the toss, Chopra and John Maunders had to work hard for runs against the new-ball attack of Kirby and John Lewis.

But it was the introduction of Ireland in the 10th over that accounted for Maunders and, eight overs later, he had Ravi Bopara caught by Richard Dawson at square leg.

Pettini gave good support to Chopra before Ireland had the Essex captain caught by Hamish Marshall at second slip and then teenager Jack Mickleburgh was caught at the wicket off trialist Woodman.

Chopra brought up his 100 with a cover drive off Woodman and it was welcome upturn in fortunes for a batsman who had averaged just 21 this season prior to match.

With no signs of assistance from a placid pitch, Gloucestershire's attack caused a few problems for Chopra and Foster.

Gloucestershire captain Lewis opted to take the second new ball at the end of the 80th over and the decision was quickly rewarded when Kirby had Chopra lbw on the back foot.

Only a further 16 deliveries were possible before umpires Peter Willey and Tim Robinson deemed the light too poor to play on.

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