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Wanstead & Snaresbrook retain title for first time ever after beating Shenfield in winner-takes-all battle
Wanstead & Snaresbrook retained the Essex League's First XI Premier Division title for the first time in the club’s history after a resounding victory in Saturday’s winner-takes-all clash against Shenfield.
Wanstead hadn’t been top of the table all season but, knowing a win on the final day would take them to the league’s summit, beat Shenfield by eight wickets.
Shenfield won the toss and, to the home team’s surprise, elected to bat on a damp wicket.
Kishen Velani (four for ten) got Wanstead off to the perfect start, taking a wicket with the first ball of the match and the hosts never looked back.
Velani removed the top four batsmen and left it to Rehan Hassan (four for five) and Joe Ellis-Grewal (one for two) to do the rest as Shenfield were knocked over for just 95.
Nerves perhaps played their part in a cautious Wanstead chase but the target was well within their reach as Arfan Akram (34) and Hassan (45 not out) steered the hosts to victory for the loss of only two.
Akram said: “We’ve never won this league twice in two years, it’s never been done before in the history of the club.
“At no stage in the season were we top of the table but I always said if we got on a run in the last few games we could do it.
“We never lost hope in the last five games and knowing Shenfield were top and we had them in the last game of the season, we knew we could play a major part in the race.”
More than a hundred supporters witnessed the historic victory and Akram says he felt very proud to be part of the club.
“I was so proud of the players and the support-base - to do it in front of them on the last day, it was perfect.
“And to top it all our third eleven and our fifth eleven both won their leagues and the seconds came runners-up so it’s been a great season overall.”