VOC stay ahead of the pack

Rod Lyall 02/07/18

VOC Rotterdam retained their position at the top of the table with a comfortable victory over HCC on Sunday, but wins for HBS Craeyenhout and VRA Amsterdam over near rivals Sparta 1888 and Excelsior ’20 Schiedam respectively mean that the battle in the upper half remains extremely tight, with all five teams having a realistic chance of grabbing the silverware.

Only 0.33 of an average point now separates Sparta in fifth place from the leaders, and while two defeats in succession have seen the Capelle side’s challenge subside somewhat – not to mention three defeats in four matches for defending champions Excelsior – no side has been consistent enough to emerge from the chasing pack.

VOC again needed to recover from the loss of early wickets after winning the toss at Hazelaarweg, and it was a fourth-wicket stand of 108 between Max O’Dowd (57) and Pieter Seelaar (80) which enabled them to reach 238 for six, while Hidde Overdijk was the most successful of the HCC bowlers with three for 42.

The quick removal of both openers by Fred Klaassen and Pierce Fletcher soon had HCC on the back foot when they replied, but Tonny Staal (66) and Bryce Street (36) shared another valuable partnership, adding 89 before O’Dowd separated them.

O’Dowd went on to take six for 40 as HCC’s batting crumbled, and they were eventually all out for 161 to lose by 77 runs.

HBS moved into second spot with another powerful display, beating Sparta 1888 by 84 runs at Craeyenhout.

The highlight of the home side’s 259 for eight was a fine century by Sharn Gomes, who passed 50 for the seventh time in ten innings but this time went on to three figures, sharing stands of 97 with opener Wessel Coster (43) and 72 with Jaron Morgan (24).

With Wesley Barresi chipping in with a 24-ball 30, HBS posted a challenging target which their attack proved more than capable of defending, and Sparta’s batsmen never looked likely to approach it after Coster removed both openers by the time 9 runs were on the board.

Tim de Kok (29), Michael Pollard (27) and Mudassar Bukhari (37) – who had taken three for 39 in the HBS innings – all got a start, but with wickets falling at regular intervals the Sparta reply never really gained momentum.

Farshad Khan removed both Pollard and Bukhari, going on to finish with four for 35, and with spinner Julian de Mey contributing a useful spell for two for 28 even the dogged resistance of Atse Buurman (39 not out) was insufficient, and the innings closed on 175.

In the Amsterdamse Bos VRA reached 203 for two thanks to half-centuries from Dan ter Braak and Peter Borren and a splendid 89 from Ben Cooper, but a flurry of wickets in the final ten overs saw the side dismissed for 260 an over before the end, Sohail Bhatti cleaning up the tail with four for 54.

The Excelsior top order mounted a decent reply, Lorenzo Ingram making 42 and Joost Kroesen a career-best 74, and at 175 for three and ten overs remaining it seemed that the Schiedammers had an outside chance of pulling off the victory.

But they, too, collapsed in dramatic fashion, and with VRA’s former internationals Adeel Raja and Borren taking four for 38 and three for 37 respectively they were dismissed for 235.

ACC’s stop-start season took another extraordinary turn at Het Zomercomplex, where they ran up a total of more than 320 for two against a hapless Punjab Rotterdam (exact scores from this match are unfortunately currently unavailable).

Sikander Zulfiqar hit the highest score of the season with an unbeaten 150, while his brother Asad was left on 97 not out as the pair put on a record 227 (approximately) for the third wicket.

For the second week running Punjab belied their lowly position with a spirited response, but despite half-centuries from opener Stef Myburgh, Rohan Qadri and Yasir Usman they fell some 40 runs short of their massive target.

Veteran Ahmed Zulfiqar was ACC’s main wicket-taker.

Dosti United consolidated their mid-table position with two home wins over the weekend, beating Punjab by 95 runs on Saturday in a rearranged match and then prevailing over Quick Haag on Sunday.

Taruwar Kohli was again the star of Saturday’s show, posting his fourth century of the season as Dosti reached 252 for six, while in the absence of Anees Davids second-team coach Amitoze Singh contributed 53.

Waheed Masood then took four for 38 as Punjab were dismissed for 157, only Barend Vorster showing any real resistance with 48.

Singh and Masood underlined their value again on Sunday, the former making 99 in Dosti’s total of 201 all out against Quick and the latter picking up three for 48 as the Nieuw Hanenburg side were dismissed for 177.

This defeat coupled with ACC’s win sees Quick drop to ninth place in the table, but they, like ACC, are two wins ahead of Punjab and not yet in serious relegation trouble.

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