Cricket: Essex lose again after latest Chopra century
PUBLISHED: 20:54 07 May 2019 | UPDATED: 20:54 07 May 2019
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James Bracey scored his maiden one-day century to hand Gloucestershire victory over Essex, but it was in vain as his side exited the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Batsman Bracey, who only made his format debut earlier in the competition, classily crashed a hundred from 86 balls to send Gloucestershire to a four-wicket victory.
But wins for Middlesex and Somerset elsewhere meant the Bristol-based county failed to go through due to their net run-rate.
Essex, who were knocked out before the match having only managed two victories in the tournament, had posted 293 thanks to Varun Chopra's third ton of this year's One Day Cup.
Gloucestershire began their reply confidently, although Miles Hammond rode his luck when he was dropped on 20 by Dan Lawrence on the square-leg boundary.
Hammond, on the back of 95 against Sussex, only scored one more run before he was caught behind off Simon Harmer while yahooing down the track, before Aaron Beard smashed into Gareth Roderick's stumps.
Dent and Bracey then settled the innings down and put Gloucestershire on track with the required run rate with a 117-run stand.
Neither came across as overly aggressive but both accumulated with skill, both posting half centuries - Dent from 67 balls and Bracey from 51 balls, which included a firmly struck six down the ground.
The partnership was broken when Dent walked following a low catch to Harmer at short midwicket and van Buuren and Jack Taylor followed in quick succession, skewing to mid-on and lbw respectively.
Beard, on just his second List A outing, ended with figures of 3-51 as he had Ryan Higgins well caught by Harmer running around to cover.
Gloucestershire still needed 86 from 9.5 after that wicket but Bracey maturely ticked the runs off along with Benny Howell, who had a runner after injuring his hamstring in the field.
Bracey ended with an unbeaten 113 but it was Howell who ended the game by carting Matt Coles for six over midwicket.
Earlier, stand-in captain Harmer won the toss and elected to bat on a good-looking wicket, which proved a tad sluggish as the match went on.
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Chopra enjoyed stands of 42 and 66 for the first and second wickets with Sir Alastair Cook and Tom Westley but both partnerships were ended by run outs.
Cook was called through for a quick single after flicking to square leg, before Westley greedily attempted a third run - both comfortably short of their ground after Graeme van Buuren's throws.
Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara both departed quickly, the former handing Bracey his maiden professional wicket and the latter bowled through the gate by Tom Smith.
Essex looked below-par at 147-4 but they still had Chopra, who owed his teammates, at the crease, who lubricated the innings - bringing up his half century in 70 balls.
The opener continued his sluggish pace as he ticked over three figures in 129 deliveries during an 83-run stand with Rishi Patel - who scored 26 before edging behind when trying to whoosh down the ground.
That wicket saw Chopra kick on with power - demonstrated with sixes down the ground and over deep square-leg - and deftness with paddle sweeps, as he passed through 150 in 163 deliveries - and ended the season with 421 from five innings.
The hosts looked set for a push for 300 but Robbie White, Harmer, Chopra, Matt Coles and Beard were all dismissed in the last six and a half overs to stunt them before Gloucestershire chased down with seven balls to spare.
Chopra said: "We did the hard work getting 40 and 50 run partnerships but then unfortunately we kept losing wickets at the wrong time which is probably the story of our tournament. It was a disappointing day.
"I am pleased with how the tournament has gone but disappointed to miss three games with a niggle but runs are runs.
"Gloucestershire are a team who know what they are doing in white ball cricket and know their roles well and it shows when they put in performances like that.
"It was a pretty good hundred from Bracey. Hats off to him I hadn't seen much of him before.
"At times in this competition we haven't bat well, other times we haven't bowled well and other times we haven't fielded well.
"You have got to put together all three disciplines to win and we haven't done it often enough.
"You need to have confidence to win and we kind of ran out of that."