May 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Arfan Akram is confident his Premier Division leaders can handle the pressure of fighting for two trophies
Wanstead remain in line for a remarkable league and cup double, following back-to-back wins last weekend and skipper Arfan Akram believes his side are capable of coping with the inevitable pressure at the business end of the season.
Akram’s men began the weekend with a superb 10-wicket win over title rivals Chelmsford to move top of the Premier Division.
And, on Sunday, Wanstead continued their superb form to reach the National Club Championship quarter-finals with victory over Tunbridge Wells by 22 runs.
While their cup exploits have been something of a surprise, Akram admits securing the title was always on the agenda this season and believes the pressure the team put on themselves will stand them in good stead for success.
He said: “Our pressure never changes. We began the season with ambitions to win the league and our philosophy is to keep looking ahead not behind.
“It’s just a case now of maintaining our form, picking up points and then we will assess where we are with two or three games to go.
“I think it’s a three-horse race for the title. Ourselves and Chelmsford are in the top two with a bit of a gap to the rest, but you cannot write off Brentwood.
“They have a habit of coming good this time of the season and they know what it takes to win the title.
“But anyone who is in with a shout mathematically cannot be underestimated.”
The key to Wanstead’s win over Chelmsford came with the surprising decision from Akram’s opposite number, Chris Prowting, to bat first after winning the toss.
Maurice Chambers (3-17) immediately set apart dismantling the Chelmsford innings, as the visitors were bowled out for 138.
The run chase took 41 overs to complete, with Akram scoring 83 not out, while John Chambers hit 44 at the other end.
Akram said: “We were surprised Chelmsford decided to bat first on a wet pitch that had the covers on.
“We were over the moon to have the first bite and fair play to Maurice Chambers, who was well backed up by Zain Shahzad and John Chambers.
“I think the difference was that we were more disciplined with our game plan.
“We didn’t give them a sniff and they were constantly on the back foot. It was a fantastic team performance.”
The following day Wanstead, inspired by a fine innings from Kishen Velani (65), swept aside Tunbridge Wells in the cup.
The Kent side looked to be well on their way to reaching their target of 205 to win as they moved to 90-1 at the first drinks break.
But the spin trio of Mohammed Fayaz Khan (3-46), Joe Ellis-Grewal (4-27) and Dave Richardson (2-33) sealed Wanstead’s quarter-final place.
Akram said: “Reaching the last eight of the national competition is a massive achievement for the club, it’s been a long time since anyone from Essex got this far.
“We play Bridgewater at home on August 5 and we’re all very excited.”