Essex League Premier Division: Hornchurch captain Roy Smith pays tribute to Ilford duo after stalemate

Hornchurch captain Roy Smith (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch captain Roy Smith (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Harrow Lodge Park club looked on course for victory when they reduced the visitors to 85-5, but Saurav Prabhaker and Hamza Muhammad stuck around for draw

Ashar Zaidi in bowling action for Ilford (pic TGS Photo)

Ashar Zaidi in bowling action for Ilford (pic TGS Photo) - Credit: Contributor

Hornchurch captain Roy Smith paid tribute to Ilford after they dug in for a draw in the Essex League Premier Division on Saturday.

The two local rivals did battle at Harrow Lodge Park and the visitors were reeling on 85-5 while trying to chase down 274 to win.

It was at this point that Saurav Prabhakar (36*) and Hamza Muhammad (33*) decided to settle for a draw with the pair batting for 126 and 125 balls respectively.

Although Smith admitted it was frustration, he said: “That is cricket. They don’t always roll over for you and let you win. You have to get them out and this is what it is like in the Premier.

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“We had a couple of chances and saw a few catches go down at short-leg, but they are always tricky.

“If we had held onto them it may have been difficult, although you have to give credit to the two fellas.

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“They did what they had to do and it was just a shame we couldn’t get one out and then seen if we could have rolled them over.”

Smith won the toss on Saturday and put Hornchurch into bat first, but Ronnie Saunders (13), Jamie Sorrell (26) and Billy Gordon (20) failed to kick on.

It brought Brian Barnard and Zeeshan Khan together and the pair put on 71 for the fourth wicket until the latter was caught for 39.

Hornchurch's Brian Barnard and captain Roy Smith

Hornchurch's Brian Barnard and captain Roy Smith - Credit: Archant

Hornchurch’s overseas batsmen continued on his merry way however, and smashed 128 off 99 balls.

The hosts reached 273 before they were dismissed with Essex staffer Ashar Zaidi picking up 5-78 from his 21 overs.

When Hornchurch dismissed the talented all-rounder for 33, Ilford were struggling and only had five wickets left.

It was then that Prabhaker and Muhammad took charge of the situation and made it tough for the hosts.

Smith added: “It was hard going on Saturday. Ilford set their stall out to draw the game and that is what they did.

“We batted first even though there was a little bit in the wicket because we wanted to get the runs on the board and then attack with the ball.

“In the field we took a couple of wickets, but Ilford then decided to settle for a draw and it finished that way.”

The Hornchurch skipper admitted Zaidi’s presence made it tricky for him when the home side were batting.

And he also admitted had the Essex star stayed in, then a positive conclusion might have occurred after all.

“The tricky thing with playing against Ilford is in Zaidi they have a match winner,” admitted Smith.

“He can take seven wickets and concede no runs while doing it and then smash a century in next to no time.

“We thought 280 was about par, but if Zaidi wasn’t playing I probably would have declared on around 250 because he can take the game away from you, although having said that, maybe our problem on Saturday was getting him out when we did.”

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