Wanstead captain delighted with opening-day win at Belhus

Zain Shahzad took seven wickets as Wanstead beat Belhus on the first day of the Essex League season

Zain Shahzad took seven wickets as Wanstead beat Belhus on the first day of the Essex League season - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Wanstead captain Joe Ellis-Grewal was delighted to get the new Hamro Foundation Essex League Premier Division season off to a winning start at Belhus.

Despite losing the toss and being sent into the field, the Herons skipper saw new-ball duo Zain Shahzad and Kishen Velani run through the home batting line-up.

Shahzad finished with superb figures of 7-19, while Velani picked up 3-37 as the hosts were skittled for 62 inside 18 overs.

Tom Simmons (39 not out) steered the visitors to a quickfire eight-wicket win and Ellis-Grewal said: "We were brilliant. It was the best we've bowled and fielded in a long time.

"Kish's lines were great and Zain was relentless. They both set the tone really well. 

Kishen Velani took three wickets and three catches as Wanstead beat Belhus

Kishen Velani took three wickets and three catches as Wanstead beat Belhus - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

"They had to take risks to score and we had five caught in the slips, one caught behind, a couple bowled. It was proper cricket, they were shellshocked.

"I think Zain has only got one five-for before for Wanstead, so to get seven was fantastic and Kish was brilliant at the other end.

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"Simmo scored at better than a run a ball (39 off 30) which was super to see and we had five or six guys waiting who are capable of scoring league hundreds.

"It was a nice professional performance and good to get that first win on the board."

Wanstead are now looking forward to a home double-header this weekend as they host Hornchurch, who lost their league opener at Hadleigh, on Saturday and Crouch End in the ECB National Club Championship on Sunday.

"Hornchurch are a really good side but you never know what you're going to get. They've got four or five stars and a couple of new guys," added Ellis-Grewal.

"They can beat anyone on their day but had a bad start and it's never nice playing a side after that.

"Hornchurch generally play well against Wanstead so it's a massive game for us, but our confidence is high.

"Crouch End in the National on Sunday are a bit of an unknown. They won the Middlesex Premier last year but have lost five players and brought five new ones in.

"I've not got much of an idea about what they're like, but we're playing good cricket and it's nice to play a new side at home."

*Shawais Saeed, 13, scored 198 for Wanstead 6th XI against Ilford 5ths - the highest score by a Herons player since 2008 - in a 199-run derby win.

And 14-year-old Ali Zeb hit an unbeaten 114 for the 2nd XI, sharing an unbroken 175 with 16-year-old Harith Wajid in a six-wicket win over Buckhurst Hill.