Rod Lyall 23/07/18
Recovering from a somewhat shaky, if decidedly lively, start to beat their closest rivals, HBS Craeyenhout by 39 runs on Sunday, VRA Amsterdam set out their stall as the principal challengers to VOC Rotterdam’s run towards this year’s Topklasse title.
As the players left the field, however, the news came through that the leaders had themselves held on for a two-wicket victory over ACC, thus remaining effectively two games ahead in their bid to take the championship for the first time since 1994.
At Craeyenhout, VRA began at a gallop after Emile van den Burg won the toss and elected to bat, maintaining a rate of nearly six an over in the initial powerplay.
But this came at a cost, as Berend Westdijk, battling a shoulder injury, produced a sustained spell of hostile seam bowling, and Eric Szwarczynski, Ben Cooper and Daan ter Braak all fell hooking rising deliveries.
By the twentieth over three more wickets had fallen, including that of surprise inclusion Michael Rippon, and at 89 for six VRA were in some difficulty.
The Amsterdam side bat deep, however, and with Westdijk having completed an excellent spell for figures of four for 49 the innings was rebuilt by Vikram Singh (29), Leon Turmaine (19) and Mitch Lees, the latter top-scoring with a fine 55-ball 44.
Then Quirijn Gunning and Haseeb Gul Mia finished things off with a breezy, unbroken last-wicket partnership, and VRA closed on 226 for nine.
The same pair ripped through the HBS top order once they got the ball in their hands, and with 13 overs the home side had in their turn been reduced to 30 for five, with three wickets for Gunning and two for Haseeb Gul, Lees claiming four catches behind the stumps.
Wesley Barresi and Dennis Coster, the latter having sustained a painful rib injury while fielding, set about restoring HBS’s fortunes, but Coster eventually fell to a fine catch by Gunning at mid-on off Borren’s bowling, and it was left to Barresi to keep his side’s hopes alive, in company with Navjit Singh.
The asking rate was, however, rising, and when Barresi fell to another Gunning catch, this time on the midwicket boundary, as he attempted to push the score along, the chase was effectively over.
Singh and Ferdi Vink added 58 for the eighth wicket in a spirited stand, but by the time Vink fell, caught and bowled by Rippon for 20 at the start of the 47th over, 15 an over was still required.
Singh went on to complete a fine not-out half-century, ending on 55, but a run-out ended the innings on 187. Gunning took three for 26 and Haseeb Gul three for 35.
Leaders VOC Rotterdam were pushed all the way at Het Loopveld West by ACC, but another solid innings from Scott Edwards saw them home with five balls and two wickets in hand.
Anchored by opener Richardt Frenz, who made 82, ACC reached 217 for seven in their fifty overs, with Asad Zulfiqar making 40 and skipper Saqib Zulfiqar contributing a crucial 57 in the latter stages of the innings. Pierce Fletcher was VOC’s main wicket-taker with three for 42.
The Bloodhounds soon lost Corey Rutgers and Dirk van Baren, and then Jelte Schoonheim, when they replied, but their fortunes were at least partially restored by stands of 49 between Max O’Dowd and Pieter Seelaar, and then a further 46 between Seelaar and Edwards.
Once Seelaar was run out by Frenz for 52, however, it was left to Edwards to see his side home, and with support from the lower order he was ultimately successful, making a 66-ball 64 not out in the process.
Dewald Botha kept ACC’s hopes alive with three for 34, including the wicket of Fred Klaassen with 36 still needed, but in the end VOC were just too strong.
In the middle of the table there were wins for Dosti United and Excelsior ‘20, who beat Sparta 1888 and Quick Haag respectively.
Sparta did well to dismiss Dosti for 183 at Sportpark Bermweg, with Mudassar Bukhari and Martijn Snoep taking three for 22 and three for 32 respectively; the first of Bukhari’s three, in his 200th top-flight match, took him into the select company of those bowlers who have claimed 300 wickets in the limited-overs era.
Mohammad Hafeez was again Dosti’s top-scorer with 52, and he and Rahil Ahmed (35) shared in a vital fourth-wicket stand of 92.
That relatively modest total, though, turned out to be plenty as the home side quickly slumped to 38 for five and were finally bowled out for 83, Snoep the most successful of the batsmen with 21. Anees Davids took three for 23 and was also responsible for the vital wicket of Michael Pollard, run out for 12.
Excelsior’s total of 209 for five at Thurlede was mostly due to a 98-run stand between Joost Kroesen (55) and Lorenzo Ingram (57), while another Topklasse returnee, former international Daan van Bunge, chipped in with an unbeaten, 33-ball 39.
Then Rens van Troost ran through the top of the Quick batting, taking four for 29, and only a fifth-wicket partnership of 60 between Geert Maarten Mol (42) and Daan Vierling (37) lent any respectability to the Quick reply.
Once that stand had been broken Gijs Kroesen claimed three for 33 and Ingram two for 12, and Quick were all out for 157, 52 runs short.
But the most dramatic collapse of the day came at De Diepput where bottom-placed Punjab Rotterdam, chasing HCC’s total of 166, found themselves on 5 for four in the space of 10 deliveries, with Stef Myburgh, Ali Raza, Rohan Qadri and Barend Vorster all having come and gone.
That soon became 13 for five, and it took a defiant 41-ball 40 from Yasir Usman to get them up to 105 all out, with Ali Ahmed Qasim claiming three for 21 for the home side.
Ali Ahmed (42) had earlier shared a crucial 67-run partnership of 67 with Hidde Overdijk (47), which enabled their side to set what proved to be an adequate target. Mubashar Hussain took three for 44 for the Rotterdam side.