Wanstead captain Ellis-Grewal draws on positives of character

Zain Shahzad celebrates with Wanstead teammates after taking the wicket of Hornchurch batter Ronnie Saunders

Zain Shahzad celebrates with Wanstead teammates after taking the wicket of Hornchurch batter Ronnie Saunders - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Wanstead captain Joe Ellis-Grewal was pleased with the character shown by his players as they held on for a Hamro Foundation Essex League Premier Division draw at Hornchurch.

Having put the hosts into bat and dismissed them for 247, with Ellis-Grewal (4-75) and Yuvraj Odedra (3-43) having most success, the leaders slipped to 65-5 as Tom Simmons, Kishen Velani and Adnan Akram fell to ducks.

Odedra held firm at the top of the order to score 66 off 118 balls and had support from Ellis-Grewal (28 off 61), before Jonathan Das (18 off 57) steered Wanstead to 169-9 at the close.

"We were not at our best, we bowled average, batted even worse. But to cling on for a draw when we looked like losing was a big positive," said Ellis-Grewal.

Joe Ellis-Grewal in bowling action for Wanstead at Hornchurch

Joe Ellis-Grewal in bowling action for Wanstead at Hornchurch - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

"The extra three points for the draw doesn't make a great deal of difference at the minute but for the confidence of the guys to hold on and keep the unbeaten record was great.

"We thought the pitch would be good, it was very hard, and decided to bowl for a change and chase, but the pitch broke up quickly and really started spinning.

"If we'd kept them to 180-200 it would've been more achievable but a couple of decisions didn't go our way and 240, the way the pitch deteriorated, we knew would be a tough chase.

Wanstead's Tom Simmons in acrobatic action in the field at Hornchurch

Wanstead's Tom Simmons in acrobatic action in the field at Hornchurch - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

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"Then first ball, a long hop, Tom Simmons hits it to mid-wicket which set the tone. There were a few loose shots from our top order and we were out of it after 15-20 overs.

"Me and Yuvraj had a good partnership but once he went it was a case of surviving.

"It was quite pleasing. I took up quite a few balls and Jonathan Das and Zain Shahzad really dug in. They didn't look like getting out.

Wanstead's Jonathan and Robin Das in the field at Hornchurch

Wanstead's Jonathan and Robin Das in the field at Hornchurch - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

"Having not batted much this year, Jahansher [Akbar] took up 20 balls which was really pleasing to see so on reflection, to hold on and show that character was great."

The draw leaves Wanstead 48 points clear at the top of the table with seven games left and they host an improving Brentwood side at Overton Drive this weekend.

Ellis-Grewal is hoping his side can quickly return to form to keep their commanding lead intact, adding: "It was a bit of a wake-up call. It was always going to come.

"We've been playing good cricket, wins have been easy to come by. We really had to graft and looking at the next two to three weeks we've got some tough games.

"We've got to up it slightly and keep the intensity. It's been boiling hot, all-day games and cup games on Sundays, it's been a lot on the guys.

"Brentwood are a good side with good players and a lot of us were surprised by their start to the season.

"When they get on a roll, they are tough to best and they're always good games between us.

"They've got a real incentive to put a dent in our lead. They always turn up against us but we've got to do what we do well.

"Another good result could go a long way to dictating how the table might end up."