Captain Ison draws positives as Upminster take over at top of table

Pulkit Gupta scored 59 and 116 in league and cup action for Upminster last weekend

Pulkit Gupta scored 59 and 116 in league and cup action for Upminster last weekend - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Upminster captain Alan Ison was able to draw on the positives after seeing his side frustrated by Loughton last weekend.

Openers Pulkit Gupta and JJ Smuts produced another century stand at Uplands to lay the platform for a challenging total.

And South African all-rounder Smuts claimed another five-wicket haul as the home side were left to hang on to avoid defeat.

The 12 points gained allowed Upminster to leapfrog Buckhurst Hill at the top of the table, with six games to go, and a home derby with Harold Wood on Saturday.

And Ison said: "It was a positive result and we've gone top of the table on the head-to-head with Buckhurst Hill.

"It was a positive result and we've gone top of the table on the head-to-head with Buckhurst Hill.

"We've still got Buckhurst Hill, Fives, a few tough games in the last six. And Harold Wood beat us earlier in the season and annihilated Ilford last weekend."

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Put into bat after losing the toss, Upminster saw Smuts hit a six and eight fours to reach 69 off 50 balls in a 110-run partnership.

Gupta hit a six and nine fours in his 59 from 91 balls, with James Evans (29) and Ison (52) helping to lift the total to 272-9.

"I think that's six or seven century stands. they're doing really well," added Ison.

"PK is batting very well, so is JJ. The wicket wasn't very good, not as flat as it usually is at Loughton and to get that score was massive."

Slow left-armer Smuts removed three of the Loughton top five for single figures, as Nehal Butt trapped the dangerous Omar Akram lbw for a fourth-ball duck to leave them 24-4.

JJ Smuts claimed another five wickets as Upminster dominated their draw with Loughton

JJ Smuts claimed another five wickets as Upminster dominated their draw with Loughton - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Bilal Butt and Alan Jones put on 66 for the fifth wicket, then fell in quick succession to Oliver Peck and Smuts, respectively.

And Shafiq Rahman, Peck (2-21) and Smuts had further success to leave them 116-9, only for last man Ben Notley-Griffiths to survive for 13 balls.

Ison said: "I thought it was a tough chase and the wicket was doing loads.

"Alan and Bilal stuck around, they missed a lot, but we got them nine down and just couldn't get the last one for the 25 points.

"There was a dropped catch but it was a tough chance." 

Gupta continued his superb form with the bat on Sunday, scoring 116 off 117 balls before he was last man out as Upminster made 205 against Premier Division outfit Brentwood in the Essex League Cup.

Ellis Pickering (23) helped put on 73 for the eighth wicket but Brentwood raced to their target with eight wickets and 18 overs to spare.

Openers Aaron West (34) and Christopher Green (57) put on 78 in quick time, before falling to Ollie Todd and Billy Wright, with Tom Oakley (64) and Jack Hebron (33) unbeaten at the close.

Ison added: "It was another very good knock from Pulkit on Sunday, just a shame that nobody supported him apart from Ellis.

"Westy and Chris Green got them off to a flyer, they're a strong team with good players, but Bill always gets the overseas out. We call him the Overseas Slayer now!"

Upminster's Billy Wright added Brentwood overseas Christopher Green to his list of victims in their cup defeat

Upminster's Billy Wright added Brentwood overseas Christopher Green to his list of victims in their cup defeat - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo