County Championship: Bopara ton leads Essex towards win over Nottinghamshire

Ravi Bopara celebrates his century
Ravi Bopara hit 11 fours in a knock of 135 that lasted almost five and a half hours
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Trent Bridge, Nottingham (day three):
Nottinghamshire 213 & 100-5: Duckett 32*
Essex 519-9 dec: Browne 163, Bopara 135, Lawrence 64; Broad 3-75, Ashwin 3-162
Nottinghamshire (2 pts) trail Essex (6 pts) by 206 runs with five wickets remaining

Title-chasers Essex closed in on a fifth Championship win in six games as Ravi Bopara completed a century and Nottinghamshire struggled with the bat.

Resuming on 345-3, the visitors lost Nick Browne (163) five balls into day three but former England all-rounder Bopara made his 31st first-class ton.

Essex declared on 519-9 - a lead of 306 - after Bopara was caught for 135.

Notts skipper Steven Mullaney went for a duck and steady wickets fell as they closed 100-5, still 206 runs behind.

Nightwatchman Luke Fletcher (4 not out) will continue on the final day alongside Ben Duckett, who is unbeaten on 32 having dropped down the order for the visitors' second innings.

Browne failed to add to his overnight score for Essex, having batted for seven hours in all, while Stuart Broad shared three wickets apiece with Notts debutant Ravi Ashwin, who bowled an eye-catching 60 first-innings overs.

England seamer Broad took an excellent one-handed catch on the boundary to signal the end of Essex's innings, but Notts are staring at a fifth Division One defeat of the season with only their tail still to bat.

Ben Slater's run-out - following a mix-up with Joe Clarke - summed up the home side's batting display, with Simon Harmer getting Samit Patel caught to edge back ahead of Jeetan Patel as the country's top wicket-taker in 2019.

Nottinghamshire batsman Chris Nash:

"Essex are playing very good cricket and we're not playing the cricket we want to. It's a good pitch, so we're disappointed to be five down. We'd liked to have maybe been just two down - that would have given us a fighting chance tomorrow - all the lads have gone out there and applied themselves with everything they've got and I know everyone who goes in tomorrow will do exactly the same.

"We'll keep fighting. Our attitude has been good but we know we haven't pulled it off in terms of our performance.

"We're disappointed with where we are but there's an opportunity for someone to come out tomorrow and go big."

Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara:

"I don't think it's going to be that easy. When you start a new day there are usually early wickets but it will be tough and I know we'll have to battle hard. It could take two sessions or it could even go down to the last hour but we'll battle hard to try and get these five wickets. Everyone in the changing room accepts that."

"I'm very pleased for Nick Browne - he's been desperate for that hundred. He's hit the ball sweetly in the last couple of games, so it was only a matter of time before he got it.

"I wouldn't have got out but was told to just get as many as I could in the next 5-10 minutes. It was an enjoyable six hours out there for me."

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