Round 18 Preview

Bertus de Jong 25/08/18 

The business of the season is done, VOC are deserved champions, last week Punjab’s last hope of survival was snuffed out, and indeed for most of the mid-table there’s been little but pride on the line for a while. There’s still a round to finish however, as the ten teams all look to sign off on a high.

Punjab Rotterdam will play their final Topklasse match until 2020 at least against their erstwhile relegation rivals Quick Haag, who secured their safety with a win over HBS last week. Quick’s captain, coach and MVP Jay Bista has an outside shot at breaking 1,000 runs for the season, needing 147 to reach the milestone, whilst returning veteran Edgar Schiferli needs three wickets to pass Luuk van Troost and claim second place in the all-time Topklasse wickets standings. Such statistical considerations aside, what could have been a tense relegation play-off is just an opportunity to banish memories of a disappointing season for both sides.

Meanwhile ACC, whose season has been little better, need only turn up to play Sparta 1888 to avoid a wooden spoon finish, and judging by last week’s performance they probably need the motivation. Mudassar Bukhari, currently joint top with Dosti’s Mohammad Hafeez as top wicket-taker for the season, will be looking to add to his 34 wicket tally when he runs in against his old club, who could certainly have used him this season. A top-5 finish is still notionally within reach for Sparta, though they’d need a tie or a wash-out at de Diepput to get there.

Though the weather’s taken an appropriate turn for the damp and dreary at the fag end of the season, neither outcome is terribly likely when HCC take on Dosti-United. The departure of Taru Kohli has seen Dosti’s fortunes declineafter a strong start to the season, and HCC will start as favourites in front of a home crowd. Young Hidde Overdijk is still in contention for the top spot on the wicket-taking table, whilst Tonny Staal needs only a half-decent knock to break 500 runs, the performance of both gives HCC hope of a better showing next year, though as predicted they have missed Jonathan Vandiar’s runs.

In the meantime Craeyenhout will witness the battle for bronze when fourth-placed HBS welcome third-placed Excelsior ’20. James Hilditch’s ill-advised return has strengthened Excelsior’s line-up even as it has aggravated his hamstring, but if HBS’ thus-far misfiring top order manage to go out with a bang the crow crowd will likely go into hibernation happy.

The day’s final game is the final that might have been, as champions VOC Rotterdam head to the Bos to take on runners-up VRA. It’s been quite a turnaround for both sides since they were playing off for the wooden spoon just two years ago, but VRA stumbling out of the blocks against Quick and HCC in their first two games more-or-less cost them a shot at the title in the end. They’ll back themselves to bag some bragging rights at least in their final match. Though VOC are not champions without good reason, they have looked more vulnerable away from home. Whoever takes the honours tomorrow the match-up is doubtless the match of the day.

BdJ’s Tips I guess just enjoy yourselves and try not to worry about how pointless it all seems.

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