The race tightens as Sparta demolish Excelsior

Rod Lyall 11/06/18

Excelsior ‘20’s unbeaten record came to an end in a short-lived but spectacular fashion at Sportpark Bermweg on Saturday, when they crashed to 41 all out against Sparta 1888 and lost by nine wickets.

Concerns have been expressed about the Bermweg pitch, but Excelsior’s demise was attributable to an outstanding performance by the Sparta attack and some indifferent batting rather than to the physical conditions.

An opening was drilled through the top order by Mudassar Bukhari and Warren Bell after Joost Maarten Snoep had inserted the visitors, and within eleven overs Tim Etman, Sandip Shankar and, crucially, Lorenzo Ingram had all edged catches to keeper Atse Buurman, two off Bukhari and one off Bell, and the score was 23 for three.

Then Dost Muhammad took over from Bell, and in a remarkable eight-over spell he claimed five wickets for just 4 runs, completing the rout with good support from Usman Saleem and then from Bell, who returned to take his second victim. Two more catches for Buurman brought his tally to five for the innings.

No Excelsior batsman reached double figures, Joost Kroesen coming closest with 9, and Sparta then took just 9.1 overs to knock off the runs for the loss of Usman Ishfaq’s wicket, with Faisal Iqbal hitting three fours and a six in the space of half-a-dozen deliveries to bring the early conclusion.

The defeat still left Excelsior top of the table, just ahead of Sparta on points average, and it sets up an enthralling finish to the first round of the competition next weekend when the champions take on HBS Den Haag, who consolidated their position on Saturday with a 60-run victory over neighbours Quick Haag.

The HBS top order again ran riot at Craeyenhout, Tobias Visée’s 19-ball 43 getting them off to another flyer and Sharn Gomes (79), Wesley Barresi (77 not out) and Adil Ahmed (41 from 26 deliveries) seeing them through to 276 for five. Only Jaron Morgan missed out this time, making only a single.

Quick were soon in trouble at 42 for three, and although Lesley Stokkers (37) and Geert Maarten Mol (40) again gave some solidity to the middle order, Ahmed and Barresi completing excellent all-round performances, taking three for 53 and three for 30 respectively, and the innings closed on 216. Visée also completed a fine double, with two catches and two stumpings.

VOC and VRA both kept up their chase of the leaders with victories over Punjab and Dosti United.
VOC’s was the more comfortable, as they restricted Punjab to 147 for nine from their 50 overs, and then raced to a seven-wicket victory in just 19.5 overs.

Fred Klaassen and Pierce Fletcher again removed the top of the opposition’s batting, collecting two wickets apiece, and only a dogged, 122-ball 53 not out from Ashan Bamunusinghe brought the home side to anything like a respectable total.

Suleiman Tariq and Assad Saleemi then reduced VOC to 49 for three, but any hope Punjab might have had was quickly removed by Max O’Dowd and Pieter Seelaar, who put on 99 in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand which saw their side home. O’Dowd finished on 49 and Seelaar on 52, the latter made from only 40 deliveries.

In the Amsterdamse Bos, VRA battled their way to 217 in what proved to be the closest and most absorbing encounter of the day.

Most of the home side’s top order got a start, Ben Cooper top-scoring with 43, but with Anees Davids taking four for 32 and Asief Hoseinbaks and Mohammad Hafeez picking up two wickets apiece, no-one was able to go on to a really significant score.

Dosti made a good start to their reply despite the early loss of Vimal Tewarie, as an 88-run second-wicket partnership between Vinoo Tewarie and Taruwar Kohli took them into a reasonably srong position.

VRA skipper Emile van den Burg, hampered by an injury to Peter Borren after he had bowled only three deliveries, resorted to less regular bowlers, and it was Cooper who achieved the breakthrough, removing Tewarie for 42.

But Kohli was still there, and it was his dismissal, also by Cooper, with the total on 128, which decisively turned the match VRA’s way. Leon Turmaine picked up two wickets and Van den Burg himself achieved career-best figures of three for 31 as Dosti’s chase foundered, and the innings closed on 172 for nine. On a good day for wicketkeepers, VRA’s Mitch Lees claimed four catches behind the stumps.

At De Diepput, ACC enjoyed a reversal of fortunes as they secured a 29-run victory over HCC, making the highest total of the day with 300 for eight.

Promoting Richardt Frenz to opener worked like a charm, and the overseas player’s 117 gave the ACC top order the solidity it has so far lacked this season. Rehmat Zulfiqar made 66 in a century opening stand, and then skipper Saqib Zulfiqar contributed 80 before wickets started to tumble in the final overs.

Bryce Street also ran into top form when HCC replied, but his 102 was not quite enough, despite useful contributions from Mark Jonkman (40) and Douwe Walhain (35). At 187 for four with eleven overs left HCC had wickets in hand, but the asking rate had risen to ten an over, and this proved beyond the home side.

Sikander Zulfiqar’s four for 67, including the wicket of Jonkman, helped to turn the tide, and 30 were still needed off the final two overs when Street was run out and the innings ended on 271.

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