Essex League Premier Division: Wanstead too strong for Ilford and close gap on leaders Chelmsford
PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 June 2017
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Joe Ellis-Grewal’s Herons claim a third consecutive win in the Premier Division and bragging rights after seeing off local rivals
Wanstead moved to within six points of Essex League Premier Division leaders Chelmsford following a comprehensive five wicket win over local rivals Ilford.
Joe Ellis-Grewal’s team chased down 245 at Overton Drive to claim a third successive victory in the division and maintain their strong recent form.
Ilford’s stand-in captain Theeban Tavarasa won the toss and batted first, but the visitors lost three early wickets and fell to 37-3 with Jack Lord (2-42) impressing with the new ball.
Saf Imtiaz and Essex’s Ashar Zaidi went about rebuilding the innings and batted sensibly for long periods at Overton Drive, as they seeked to help Ilford post a strong total in the basking sunshine.
Wicket-keeper Imtiaz passed fifty for the second time in the league this season, but a change of bowling by Ellis-Grewal resulted in the key breakthrough.
Essex’s Kishen Velani had the wicket-keeper caught for 55 to end the 103-run fourth wicket partnership.
It sparked a mid-order wobble as Adnan Akram took a stunning one-handed catch to dismiss Akash Raji and reward the solid bowling of Aron Nijjar (1-37).
Essex all-rounder Zaidi remained at the crease, however, and reached fifty with Ilford still hopeful of a big score, but Wanstead were starting to turn the screw.
Haaris Ayub looked to get the away side back on track and put on 36 for the sixth wicket before Ellis-Grewal brought himself back on and had Zaidi caught for 65 with the Pakistani first-class cricketer furious about his dismissal after getting an inside edge onto his boot and seeing Robin Das claim the catch.
Ayub was the next batter to go for 24, as Ilford were struggling on 195-7 with the overs running out, but Tavarasa’s team started to fight back.
Hussnain Kazmi smashes three boundaries in a quick-fire 18, though Wanstead’s captain had him caught, as he finished with figures of 3-56.
Ilford’s number eight Hamza Muhammad started to play his shots alongside Kalpesh Chandracant and the pair took advantage of a slight drop in concentration in the field by Wanstead to pinch some late runs.
Muhammad ended unbeaten on 26 and Chandracant hit an important 10 not out to help the away side post 245-8 from their 50 overs and take momentum into the field.
Wanstead, eager to regain the stranglehold on the game, got off to a fast start with Arfan Akram and Hassan Chowdhury scoring runs quickly.
Kazmi halted their progress by seeing Chowdhury caught for a breezy 19 after an opening stand of 35.
Arfan Akram continued to find the boundary with regularity and looked set for a half century until he offered a caught and bowled opportunity to Tavarasa.
The Ilford captain took the chance to dismiss the Wanstead opener for 40 and when Velani was bowled by Zaidi (1-34), suddenly the visitors scented an opening.
Feroze Khushi was still at the crease, though and kept finding gaps in the field with Tom Cummins helping increase the pressure on the away side.
Cummins was forcing mistakes with his impressive running and Khushi reached fifty, as Wanstead started to take control.
Zaidi did catch Cummins for 24 off the bowling of Mohammad Ahktar (1-30), but the hosts were still looking comfortable on 164-4.
Ellis-Grewal came to the crease and wasted little time settling in, as he and Khushi kept on picking up one and twos.
With the game slipping away from Ilford, Khushi smashed a huge six to signal his intent with another hundred in sight for the youngster.
Unfortunately for the Wanstead number three, he fell 14 runs short, as he offered Chandracant (1-54) a caught and bowled chance.
Herons captain was still looking good, however, and alongside Nijjar pressed on the accelerator button to see their team home.
Ellis-Grewal finished unbeaten on 36, while Nijjar ended the game with a huge six to improve his average with 15 not out.
It sealed another impressive victory for Wanstead, this time with more than seven overs to spare, to see them close the gap on Chelmsford.
Ilford, without regular captain Shaz Hafeez, took five bonus points from the contest and drop to sixth following the loss.
Although disappointed to suffer a defeat, it was another good learning curve for the numerous youngsters in the Valentines Park team.