Bopara hundred bolsters England

LORD’S: New number three Ravi Bopara's second successive Test hundred was the centrepiece of England's 289 for seven on the first day of their series opener with the West Indies at Lord's here on Wednesday.

Bopara was a Test-best 118 not out at stumps in his first Test since making 104 against the West Indies in Barbados in February and only fifth in all.

The 24-year-old Essex all-rounder, dropped on 76 and 100, had faced 246 balls with 14 fours in an innings so far lasting nearly six hours.

Bopara prevented a complete collapse against Fidel Edwards, who took four wickets for 53 runs in 19 overs including the prize scalp of Kevin Pietersen for nought.

Fast bowler Edwards might have had a few more had not Bopara been missed off a simple chance and Stuart Broad, dropped twice off the Bajan's bowling, given four reprieves as the West Indies put down a potentially costly six catches after the tea interval.

Broad, was eventually out for 38 when he cut left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, who'd dropped him off his own bowling, to Jerome Taylor at point after a stand of 69 with Bopara had taken England to 262 for six.

Benn then had Test debutant Tim Bresnan lbw for nine, with Graeme Swann seven not out at the close.

Both Bopara and Edwards had recently honed their games by playing in the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 tournament featuring most of the world's leading players.

Bopara, whose temperament was a key factor in his promotion up the order from number six ahead of more experienced number three batsmen Owais Shah, Ian Bell and former captain Michael Vaughan, rarely looked flustered.

In his first Test at Lord's, Bopara went to a 207-ball century with a quick single off Lionel Baker.

England at tea were 182 for four after Edwards had dismissed Alastair Cook, Pietersen and Paul Collingwood.

Bopara should have been out five balls afterwards when he clipped Edwards straight to square leg only for Brendan Nash to drop the chance.

Edwards though did have his fourth wicket when Matt Prior, facing his first ball after tea, hit straight to cover on 42 where Lendl Simmons made no mistake to leave England on 193 for five and so end a partnership worth 84.

Edwards had now taken four wickets for 19 runs in six overs and then had Broad missed twice with West Indies captain Chris Gayle, who only arrived in England from IPL duty on Monday, dropping a comfortable first slip catch.

Edwards, 27, had earlier rocked England in the fourth over after lunch with two wickets in successive balls.

He first bowled Cook for 35 off the inside edge and next ball produced a 91mph beauty which squared up Pietersen and took the outside edge with wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin holding a fine one-handed catch as he dived low to his right.

England, who had been 88 for one at lunch, were now 92 for three with Edwards on a hat-trick at the start of his next over. Collingwood survived that but fell soon afterwards.

Gayle had earlier won the toss and elected to field in overcast conditions which looked as if they might assist his pacemen.

However, the cloud cover soon disappeared as England captain Andrew Strauss and fellow left-handed opener Cook settled in on a ground where the last six Tests have all ended in draws.

But Strauss, who made hundreds in three successive Tests against the West Indies during England's 1-0 series loss in the Caribbean this year, was caught behind off Taylor.