Middlesex 366 for 8 (Malan 95, Scott 63, Gubbins 56) Essex 328 (Chopra 127, Westley 77, Sowter 6-62) by 38 runs
Middlesex opened their Royal London One-day Cup campaign with an exciting 38-run victory over Essex at Chelmsford. After posting 366 for 8 in their 50 overs, they bowled their opponents out for 328.
Defeat left Varun Chopra with the dubious distinction of being on the losing side after scoring his second century of the week in the competition. He followed up his 111 against Glamorgan 48 hours earlier with a superb 127 from as many deliveries before he was caught on the midwicket boundary by Eoin Morgan attacking Toby Roland-Jones.
Chopra's innings contained two sixes and 14 fours and his removal from the scene in the 38th over with the total on 256 proved the turning point, Essex losing their last seven wickets for 72 runs.
With Tom Westley, Chopra shared in a second wicket stand of 158 in 22 overs after Alastair Cook had been caught behind by John Simpson off Tim Murtagh for only 11. Westley made 77 from 59 balls with the help of two sixes and seven fours before he fell to a Nathan Sowter return catch.
Middlesex's innings, after they had been put in, owed much to Dawid Malan. The opener, without taking undue risks, stroked the ball fluently around the field while gathering 11 fours in his 95 made from 102 balls. With his century beckoning, it needed a fine throw by Peter Siddle at cover to remove him with a direct hit.
John Simpson, Morgan and Steve Eskinazi all scored better than a run-a-ball before being dismissed in the 20s but it was Nick Gubbins and George Scott who gave the Middlesex innings momentum in the later overs.
Gubbins struck seven fours in making 56 in 57 balls while Scott thrashed five sixes and three fours from only 30 deliveries before becoming on of Siddle's three victims at a cost of 71 from 10 overs.
It was not a match Ravi Bopara will want to remember. He conceded 59 while sending down half-a-dozen overs and made just 20 before edging Roland-Jones to wicket-keeper Simpson, who was standing up to the paceman.
Following Chopra's dismissal and that of Bopara in the same over, Essex were always struggling to keep up with the required rate despite the efforts of Ryan ten Doeschate. The Essex captain made 39 from 19 balls, his departure providing the excellent Sowter with his fifth wicket when he was stumped.
Sowter's teasing legspin brought him a personal best of 6 for 62 from 9.2 overs and was just reward for a disciplined performance.
Robbie White, on a two-month loan from Middlesex to help Essex overcome a wicket-keeping crisis, underlined his promise with four catches and a stumping to go with the five catches he took in victory against Glamorgan earlier in the week. But his efforts were not enough to spare Essex from defeat after Middlesex finished one run short of their highest 50-over score.