Upminster's Ison looks to strengthen bid at Loughton

Upminster's JJ Smuts (right) celebrates with team mates after taking a wicket

Upminster's JJ Smuts (right) celebrates with team mates after taking a wicket - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Upminster captain Alan Ison is hoping his side can strengthen their bid for promotion at Loughton this weekend.

Ison's men are currently second in Hamro Foundation Essex League Division One, six points behind Buckhurst Hill and 22 clear of third-placed Loughton.

And they are aiming to avenge a home defeat in their earlier league meeting, having won a cup tie back in April.

Ison said: "We've played twice and it's 1-1 so it will be interesting to see what happens.

"Loughton are a very strong team, they got a massive score at ours (350-4) and have got very good players like Omar Akram and Hamza Ahmed.

"I think we're at full strength so it should be good."

Upminster eased to a seven-wicket win over Woodford Wells last weekend after a superb display in the field.

Upminster's Nehal Butt celebrates taking a wicket

Upminster's Nehal Butt celebrates taking a wicket - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

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Having put the visitors into bat, Ison saw his new-ball pairing of JJ Smuts and Nehal Butt reduce them to 0-3, 5-4 and then 18-5.

Gareth James (38) and Robert Kingham (41) put on 60 but were the only Wells batters in double figures as they were dismissed for 106.

South African all-rounder Smuts (5-41) proved the pick of the Upminster attack, as Butt (2-15) and Shafiq Rahman (2-0) nabbed braces and Billy Wright struck with only his fifth ball to end the innings.

"Part of me didn't want to put them in as it was so hot, but the best way for us to win is to bat second," added Ison.

"You don't get many better starts than 0-3 in two overs.

"JJ was on the money from ball one and did the job again with Nehal. It was more a case of good balls than poor shots.

"Once we got Gareth, we got the last few wickets pretty quickly, Shafiq getting two for none in his one over of off-spin.

"It was a very good bowling performance to get them out for 106 on an absolute road with a rapid outfield."

Smuts fell for just nine in reply but Pulkit Gupta (44) put on 59 with James Evans (25) either side of tea.

Kiran Kullar and Butt sealed victory in the 18th over and Ison said: "We only needed 20 and took tea, then lost PK and Spangles just after, but they batted well. It was a really good performance."