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Varun Chopra suffered an agonising near-miss when he was stranded three runs short of a NatWestT20Blast century for Birmingam Bears against Durham Jets last week.

I was going hard for the century and it was a little bit of a shame I couldn’t get there

Varun Chopra

But the opening batsman, who struck a superb 97 in the Bears’ nine-wicket win, was still very happy with his day’s work – especially as he did not know he was playing until two hours before the game.

Chopra’s call-up came late when Sammie Hain was laid low by food poisoning – and he took full advantage.

The right-hander batted beautifully for 97 from 58 balls with eight fours and four sixes to steer Birmingham to their second victory of the campaign and be denied a century only because the Bears reached their target.

Now, with Hain recovered, the experienced batsman has given Birmingham a tricky selection decision ahead of tomorrow night’s Blast home game against Yorkshire Vikings.

“I was going hard for the century and it was a little bit of a shame I couldn’t get there,” Chopra said. “But until five o’clock I wasn’t expecting to play so after getting that late call I was just looking to do what the team needed. It worked out pretty well.

“It’s never nice not playing. It’s always frustrating, so when you do get an opportunity you have got to let the bat do the talking as much as you can, so I was pretty happy with my day’s work.”

“I hit a couple of sixes early on and it’s always nice to get off to a good start. If you get ahead of the rate in a chase that just calms you down a bit and makes the dugout a bit calmer and the chase a bit easier. “

Birmingham made short work of that chase after the Jets’ batsmen had found runs difficult to collect against accurate bowling and energetic fielding.

I have been feeling pretty good with the bat this year and felt good out there while Belly played really well at the other end

Varun Chopra

“The guys bowled well to restrict them to a moderate target on a good batting wicket,” said Chopra. “Rikki Clarke bowled really well and Woakesy bowled with good pace and aggression and really set the tone with a bumper to Phil Mustard. Then the spinners did what the spinners do for us year in year out and reined in the scoring and the fielding was good.

“Then we chased it down well. I have been feeling pretty good with the bat this year and felt good out there while Belly played really well at the other end and then Will Porterfield came in and kept things going.

“We got a couple of good partnerships going and, as a batting side, that’s what you want, to have than intent to dominate against the ball and make bowlers feel uncomfortable. If we can do that as a batting side we will be a force to be reckoned with.”

See Varun in action

The Bears take on the Yorkshire Vikings this Friday and we’re delighted to be offering FREE admission for all Under 16s and if you purchase in our advanced sales window you’ll save £4 on your ticket ahead of our on the day price. To secure your tickets please click here.