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Akram hails Wanstead wonders

PUBLISHED: 14:43 08 September 2014 | UPDATED: 14:43 08 September 2014

Wanstead celebrate winning the Essex League Cup final (pic: Sandra Rowse)

Wanstead celebrate winning the Essex League Cup final (pic: Sandra Rowse)

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Club claim cup in captain’s swansong

Wanstead captain Arfan Akram receives the Essex League Cup after beating Ilford (pic: Martin Pluck)Wanstead captain Arfan Akram receives the Essex League Cup after beating Ilford (pic: Martin Pluck)

Wanstead captain Arfan Akram hailed the ruthlessness of his side after they achieved two important victories over the weekend to win the Essex League Cup and finish as runners-up of the Premier Division.

Wanstead beat Loughton by five wickets on Saturday, with John Chambers (78) and 17-year-old Saurav Prabhakar (58) virtually taking the team home when chasing 200 to win to confirm their second-place finish.

They entertained Ilford in the Dukes League Cup final yesterday and ran out eight-wicket winners after bowling their local rivals out for 131.

Zain Shahzad (3-26) and 16-year-old Misem Ali Syed-Zaidi (3-35) starred with the ball before Chambers (42 not out) carried his bat in reply.

Essex youngster Kishen Velani showed his class with 61 from 45 balls to earn Wanstead the silverware to the delight of Akram, who subsequently confirmed he would be standing down as skipper.

He said: “The most impressive thing for me was the ruthlessness over the whole weekend.

“It was very nice to finish the captaincy with a cup win and it has been a great journey, but it is all about the club and what we have achieved together.

“We haven’t finished outside the top two in the Premier Division for seven or eight years either so it was good to send out a message to the rest by finishing runners-up.

“I was very disappointed (to fall cheapily against Ilford), but it is part of the game and you can’t always write your own script. The most important thing is the result over personal glory so I was most pleased about that.”

Akram praised the performance of Prabhakar in the Premier Division victory over Loughton and paid tribute to the experienced Chambers, who shone in both matches.

He added: “Prabhakar snapped up his opportunity once again when handed one. He showed loads of quality and showed lots of skill in his innings.

“The way Chambers was talking to Prabhakar throughout his innings was artistic in the way he still allowed him to play his natural game. He is a class act, he leads from the front and is a powerhouse for us.”

In Sunday’s final against Ilford, various youngsters also impressed for Wanstead to ensure they finished their campaign with cup glory.

Syed-Zaidi and Shahzad stole the show with the ball before Velani took the team home with a destructive innings.

Akram was enthusiast about all three, adding: “Shahzad with the new cherry was unplayable at times and well supported by Velani (1-25) as well. It was a fantastic performance from 16-year-old Syed-Zaidi too.

“People say you don’t learn the art of leg spin until you are in your mid-20s but he has got a great platform to go on. To deliver in a final in front of a big crowd, playing against quality players was phenomenal.

“Kishen dug in at first when he came out to bat before he opened up and showed why he is a professional and why we are all club cricketers!

“I have to give credit to Ilford as well, they finished fourth in the Premier Division and although they will be disappointed with their batting they really pushed us hard on Sunday.”

Wanstead finish their campaign on Saturday with a benefit game against an Essex team selected by England captain Alastair Cook at Overton Drive.

The action starts at 10am with a mini junior tournament, before a 20-20 clash at 2pm and an evening function after the match has finished.


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