Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Ravi-nous for cricket success

England hero Ravi Bopara claimed his recent stint in the Indian Premier League put him in the right frame of mind to score a crucial Test century.

On the opening day of the first Test against the West Indies at Lord's, the Essex star made the most of some dropped catches to stand unbeaten on 118 at the close.

The hosts struggled elsewhere as they reached 289 for seven by stumps.

Bopara joined the likes of Kevin Pietersen — who was out for a golden duck tomorrow — and Andrew Flintoff in the IPL, and despite the controversy over the participation of England players so close to the Test series, he insisted it was the ideal preparation.

"I felt really good (during the IPL) in the nets and in the middle," he said.

"If anything, I think it's better because if you're coming off one-day cricket you are positive.

"If you're a little bit negative you don't get into those good positions, so I think it worked in my favour."

Just as in his previous three-figure score at the Kensington Oval, however, he required a life and got it when a lazy clip off the pads off the bowling of Fidel Edwards was inexplicably dropped by Brendan Nash at square-leg.

He had 76 at that point and was already into three figures when Devon Smith grassed the second of two chances with the score 245 for five, failing to cling to a catch to his right after Lionel Baker induced a loose drive.

Left-hander Broad, on 32, had survived a regulation nick to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin off spinner Sulieman Benn in the previous over.

That was the third of his four escapes. Benn bodged two of the others — a slice to gully off an irate Edwards and a return chance which Broad hit twice — while Gayle missed a dolly at first slip which Smith failed to grab on the rebound.

Broad's luck finally ran out, however, when he sliced one to backward point off the giant Benn.

Yorkshire's Tim Bresnan, one of England's two debutants in the contest, was then harshly adjudged leg before to a Benn delivery angling in, on the eve of stumps.

Bopara, whose preparation for this series opener was spent participating in the Indian Premier League, recently displayed an ability to adapt to the challenge of Test cricket by hitting his 104 in Bridgetown days after a 41-hour trek from New Zealand.

Edwards' fiery post-lunch spell, which accounted for three wickets in a six-over period, required an English rearguard.

Bopara witnessed the devastation from the non-striker's end, which began when Essex colleague Alastair Cook's lack of footwork resulted in him re-directing the ball back into the stumps.

Kevin Pietersen, in his first innings in this country since his high-profile demise as captain in the new year, was spectacularly dismissed first ball when a full delivery left him in the air and flew off the outside edge through to Ramdin, who changed direction to cling on one-handed.

More outswing from Edwards was rewarded with a third afternoon success when Paul Collingwood edged low to second slip, where Devon Smith made the chance look easy.

It was in contrast to what followed, however, as the West Indians became the latest victims of Lord's difficult background — England dropped nine chances against Sri Lanka three years ago.

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