Article by Sam Goody: Billericay pulled away from the Shepherd Neame Essex League Premier Division relegation zone with a comfortable five-wicket win against Ilford.
Having been asked to bowl first, Billericay restricted Ilford to just 196, with Essex’s Ashar Zaidi making 128 of those runs.
And the total was chased down for the loss of five wickets with 10 balls to spare, much to the delight of Billericay skipper Lee Knight.
“We were very happy to pick up a win,” said Knight. We lost the toss and were put into field, which wasn’t ideal given it was a very hot day and the outfield was quick.”
But, despite that, Andy Smith made early inroads into the Ilford batting attack.
Smith picked up the wickets of Arun Parameswaran, Hamza Muhammad and Akhil Anil to leave the hosts on 26/3.
But it was at this point that Zaidi came in and Knight recognised the importance of his innings.
“The innings would have been wrapped up a lot quicker if it wasn’t for Ashar Zaidi’s brilliant knock of 128,” said Knight. He didn’t really give us a chance and single handedly got Ilford to a total to bowl at.”
Zaidi’s 126 contained 16 fours and four sixes but Ilford’s second top scorer was extras and only one batsman apart from Zaidi reached double figures.
And Knight was happy at the halfway mark of the contest.
“We felt 196 was below par but obviously with Ilford’s spin attack we knew it wouldn’t be plain sailing,” said Knight. Aaron Curtis and Saurav Prabhakar put on 79 for the first wicket, which put us in a good position especially given our recent struggles at the top of the order.”
When both departed in quick succession, Billericay may have been worried.
But Knight and Darren Ironside steadied the innings.
“The two batsmen departed straight after the other but Darren Ironside and myself put on another decent partnership which all but wrapped up the game,” added Knight.
The third wicket partnership was worth 67 and put Billericay in control. And even though three late wickets fell, Billericay reached their target.
Nathan Khelawon smashed a six off Zaidi to seal a win that puts Billericay 26 points clear of the relegation zone.
Billericay - who were promoted from Division One last season - now sit eighth in the Premier Division table. However, they face a tough looking test this weekend as they host table-topping Wanstead & Snaresbrook.
Article by Sam Goody, The Echo