Cricket: Theeban Tavarasa backs Ilford to turn Valentines Park into fortress ahead of Shepherd Neame Essex League Premier Division game with Shenfield

PUBLISHED: 10:00 18 May 2018

Akash Raji celebrates his ton for Ilford at Billericay last Saturday (pic: Ilford CC)

Akash Raji celebrates his ton for Ilford at Billericay last Saturday (pic: Ilford CC)


Valentines Park outfit to play first home league game of season this Saturday

Harsh Kumar in batting action for Ilford (pic: Ilford CC)Harsh Kumar in batting action for Ilford (pic: Ilford CC)

Ilford skipper Theeban Tavarasa is keen for his team to make their home ground a fortress this season ahead of their first Shepherd Neame Essex League Premier Division match at Valentines Park this term.

Shenfield are the visitors on Saturday as Ilford go in search of their first league win of the season following last weekend’s draw at Billericay in their opening fixture.

Home form is likely to be key for any side hoping to have a successful campaign, and Tavarasa is confident his side can be a force again at Valentines Park.

“Five of our seven wins in the league last year came at home, so it shows we’re a strong team on our own wicket,” he said.

“We have three different spinners who are happy to share the bowling and we have an international seamer to call on in Shane Snater,

Despite being frustrated by the weather at Billericay last weekend on the opening day of the season, there were positives for Ilford to take from the draw.

The ever-exploisve Ashar Zaidi plundered 70 runs of just 56 balls as the Valentines Park outfit ended their innings on 221-3, before the Essex staffer then took two wickets to leave Billericay 99-2, before rain forced an early end.

However, the undoubted star for Ilford was teenager Akash Raji, who notched his maiden ton for the first time.

Raji finished unbeaten on 108 in the visitors’ innings, and Tavarasa was delighted for the promising teenager.

“Akash is someone who I’ve known since he was about seven, so to see him now nearly 10 years on getting his maiden ton is brilliant,” added Tavarasa.

“Players like Akash, like Harsh Kumar and Akhil Anil are all developing well as cricketers with Ilford.”

At home to Shenfield on Saturday, Ilford will hope Raji can continue his good early season form with the bat as they look for their opening league win of the term.

But Tavarasa is acutely aware of the task facing his team this weekend.

“Shenfield will provide tough opposition and they have made some good additions over the winter,” he added.

“They have promising players like Jack Plom too, so it should be an interesting game on Saturday.”

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