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Essex staffers see off East London

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 May 2015

The Essex and East London teams face the camera at Wanstead (pics; Don McDermott)

The Essex and East London teams face the camera at Wanstead (pics; Don McDermott)

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Wanstead’s Velani smashes quickfire ton

Essex captain Kishen Velani and East London rival Mahbabul Alam with the umpires before their match at WansteadEssex captain Kishen Velani and East London rival Mahbabul Alam with the umpires before their match at Wanstead

East London cricketing talent was on display at Wanstead as the East London Leagues XI took on the Essex Eagles 2nd XI in an annual exhibition match.

The top 13 players from the region, representing five leagues, made up the East London squad, while several native East Londoners were playing for the opposition.

Essex included Chingford’s Dan Lawrence, who hit a first-class 161 against Surrey recently, Ilford’s Saf Imtiaz and Wanstead’s Kishen Velani.

And Velani said: “The amount of East London cricket in the Essex team, it’s quite a high percentage. I think we’re tapping into the quality that has always been in East London.”

Kishen Velani smashes a six on his way to a whirlwind century for Essex against East London at WansteadKishen Velani smashes a six on his way to a whirlwind century for Essex against East London at Wanstead

Velani himself gave the most outstanding performance, after Essex lost the toss and were put into bat by East London.

After Lawrence was bowled by Saad Mohammad Waqas for 14, Velani came in and began to stroke the East London attack all over the ground.

In the fourth over, Velani hit the first six of the match to put up the Essex 50, and was dropped one run short of his own half-century.

Given a second life, he went on to score 105 off just 38 deliveries in under an hour.

East London's batsmen add to their total at WansteadEast London's batsmen add to their total at Wanstead

“I thought I did all right,” Velani said. “It’s always nice to get a hundred. I should have really batted for the whole innings.”

Velani’s brilliant knock put Essex on their way to a score of 205-6 from their 20 overs.

And East London were quickly in trouble as they lost two wickets from the first three balls of their reply.

They regained their composure and began to score steadily, with Waqas and Shabtab Khalid building a partnership of 69.

Khalid went on to score 39, hitting three fours and East London’s only six along the way, as they closed well short on 123-6.

East London captain and wicketkeeper Mahbubal Alam said it had been difficult to co-ordinate an East London side that had never played together before, but added: “I asked the bowlers what were their strengths and weaknesses, [and] they did really well.

“This was the first time I heard people say that we played well. Everyone’s come together and played as a team, so I’m happy about that.”

Alam also said that dropping Velani on 49 was a critical moment in the match, and pointed out that his team might have won but for Velani’s century.

But the main point of the match, from an East London perspective, was for the players to gain invaluable experience from playing against higher competition.

Essex 2nd XI head coach Barry Hyam said: “I think it gives them a sort of realisation of the level. If that’s the level they’re aspiring to get to, they’ll get a real idea of what they need to reach.”

Players for the East London side in years past have gone on to play for Essex.

Spinner Adeel Malik was part of the East London XI for two years, and he was signed to Essex this season.

“Part of the Essex philosophy is trying to bring our own players through,” Hyam dded. “We want as many Essex lads playing for the first team.

“A lot of these lads are coming through East London. It’s a really important hub. It has been for years, going back to Graham Gooch and Nasser Hussain, through to the players now like Ravi Bopara.”

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