Sparta move top as Excelsior lose to HBS

Rod Lyall 18/06/18

HBS Den Haag opened up the Topklasse competition and did their own chance of the title no harm with an impressive 99-run victory over Excelsior ‘20 at Thurlede on Saturday. With four teams within one defeat of each other at the top of the table, this season’s competition is developing into one of the most open for years.

After winning the toss Excelsior made early inroads into the HBS top order, the device of opening the bowling with Lorenzo Ingram again achieving its purpose of removing the menacing Tobias Visée before he was really into his stride.

But the champions’ progress was halted by a fine fourth-wicket partnership of 132 between Sharn Gomes, who achieved his fifth half-century of the season in making a solid 79, and Wesley Barresi, who stayed until the end and finished on 89.

Najvit Singh chipped in with a brisk 26 before being somewhat unfortunately run out by a direct hit from Tom Heggelman on the long on boundary when trying to get Barresi back on strike, and the innings closed on 252 for six.

Excelsior’s batsmen did better than they had against Sparta the previous week, but a combination of Barresi’s off-spin and the seam of Wessel Coster, Ferdi Vink and Berend Westdijk proved too effective, and they could only manage a disappointing 153. Barresi took three for 27, Westdijk cleaned up the tail to finish with three for 23, and there were two wickets apiece for Coster and Vink.

Notably, all ten Excelsior wickets fell to catches, of which Singh’s to remove Ingram and Barresi’s to account for James Hilditch were outstanding.

At Het Loopveld in Amstelveen, meanwhile, Sparta 1888 took advantage of Excelsior’s second defeat to move to the top of the table, but their victory over ACC was hard won. It gives Sparta a real chance of becoming the first newly-promoted team to win the championship since the introduction of automatic promotion in 1970.

Chasing ACC’s 254 for six, a total largely based on a 140-run opening stand between Richardt Frenz, whose 100 was his second successive century since taking over the role of opener, and Rehmat Zulfiqar (79), Sparta were in trouble at 101 for five.

Michael Pollard was still there, however, and his partnership of 88 with Atse Buurman brought their side back into the game. Pollard was eventually bowled by Aryan Kumar for 108, but Buurman continued to produce his best knock for many seasons, and by the time he was dismissed for 72 Sparta were on the brink of victory.

Dost Muhammad, who had earlier taken four for 36 in the ACC innings, and Usman Saleem made the five runs still needed, and Sparta won by two wickets with an over to spare.

There was a thrilling finish, too, a few kilometres away at Sportpark Drieburg, where home side Dosti United came within five runs of chasing down HCC’s total of 208 for eight.

Bryce Street was again amongst the runs for HCC, making a 98-ball 82, while Boris Gorlee contributed 29 and keeper Laurens Lagas 23 not out in the closing stages. Mohammad Hafeez was once more the most effective of Dosti’s bowlers with three for 30.

Skipper Vinoo Tewarie confirmed his return to form with 63 when Dosti replied, and his third-wicket stand of 81 with Rahil Ahmed (41) gave his side a real chance.

But once Tewarie was trapped in front by his opposite number Mark Jonkman it was left to Anees Davids to keep the chase going, but when he was last out for 51, made at almost a run a ball despite the regular loss of partners at the other end, the home side was still just short of their target.

Jonkman took three for 49 and Hidde Overdijk three for 33, but it was Street’s dismissal of Taruwar Kohli before he had scored which was perhaps the most decisive blow for HCC.

VOC Rotterdam maintained their challenge for the title with a three-wicket win over old rivals VRA Amsterdam in a tight match at the Hazelaarweg.

Despite another middle-order collapse by VRA after Ben Cooper (45) and Daan van Braak (31) had given them a decent start with an opening stand of 72, the visitors battled through to 211 for nine thanks to useful contributions by Leon Turmaine, Quirijn Gunning and Mitch Lees, and this looked as if it might be enough when VOC were reduced to 74 for four.

Then Scott Edwards joined Pieter Seelaar, and their partnership of 112 virtually ensured a VOC victory. Edwards was finally bowled by Peter Borren for 56, but only 26 were still needed, and although two more wickets fell quickly Seelaar was able to see his side home, finishing with an unbeaten 80 from 87 deliveries.

Turmaine took three for 39 in the losing cause.

At Hermes-DVS’s new ground at Sportpark Harga, pressed into service because Quick Haag’s ground has been dug up prior to being converted to an artificial surface, there was a game of bizarre contrasts in which Quick came out on top against relegation-threatened Punjab Rotterdam.

The highlight of Quick’s 197 for eight was a rapid 90 from Jay Bista, who completely dominated a third-wicket partnership of 106 with Stefan Ekelmans, of which his partner contributed only 19.

After Bista’s departure the Quick total was pushed towards respectability by the recalled Abhinav Gill (27) and Thijs van Schelven (28 not out), while for Punjab Ahsan Bamunusinghe had his best return with the ball with five for 31.

Punjab soon lost Awais Khan and Stef Myburgh to the bowling of Imran Khan when they replied, and thereafter the score crept upwards at a snail’s pace, despite a solid 46 from Berend Vorster.

Behind the rate, Punjab then started losing wickets as they tried to accelerate, Van Schelven picking up three for 34 as the innings closed on 144. This defeat leaves Punjab firmly anchored at the bottom of the table, below ACC and Quick.


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