Ravi Bopara belts Essex to FP t20 victory over Hants
FRIENDS PROVIDENT t20, The Rose Bowl: Essex 164-1 beat Hampshire 159-8 by nine wickets Match scorecard
Ravi Bopara had previously only hit 134 runs in eight knocks in the FP t20
Ravi Bopara hit his highest score in Twenty20 cricket as Essex bolstered their position in the South Group with a nine-wicket win over Hampshire.
Sean Ervine hit an unbeaten 74 as Hampshire set a target of 159-8.
But, once Bopara got going, the result was never in much doubt, the England man hitting an unbeaten 94 off 65 balls as Essex got home on 164-1.
Bopara, aided by Matt Walker (33no), belted four sixes and 10 fours as Essex won with two overs to spare.
In company with England opener Alastair Cook, Bopara helped plunder 71 off eight overs to set up his side's successful run chase.
Cook was content to play a supporting role as England discard Bopara made hay in the sunshine.
Slow left-armer Danny Briggs then broke up the partnership by bowling Cook but Walker kept Bopara company as, with power and placement, he propelled Essex to victory with some handsome driving and cutting.
And Hampshire's bowlers wilted in the heat, the luckless Ervine conceding 38 off his three overs.
Bopara even ended the show in style, fittingly hitting the final blow with a huge six off former England Ashes hero Simon Jones.
The victory was the perfect preparation for Essex going into Tuesday night's big top of the table Chelmsford clash with South Group leaders Sussex (1910 BST).
Hampshire, who remain just two points off a top four spot, return to action at The Rose Bowl on Thursday night against Glamorgan (1910 BST).
But they now face a big task to make finals day on their own Rose Bowl patch on 14 August.
BBC Radio Solent's Kevan James comments:
Hampshire's total of 159 was never really enough unless they picked up early wickets, which unfortunately they did not.
One plus point for Hampshire was Shaun Ervine gaining a Twenty20 career best, but the calm assured batting of Ravi Bopara insured a reasonably easy win for Essex.
Hampshire continue to search for those elusive back-to-back victories in this competition, and if and when they do come, it should be enough to qualify.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.