The contest tightens at both ends of the table

Rod Lyall 09/06/19

With two matches falling victim to weather which the Dutch Meteorological Institute assures us is normal for this time of year, there was still plenty of interest in Saturday’s Topklasse matches.

Heavy overnight rain and a storm-borne succession of showers left De Diepput unplayable for normal cricket (which didn’t stop the Saturday-afternoon recreational players moving onto it as soon as the match between HCC and ACC was abandoned), while gale-force winds treated the Westvliet sightscreens as their plaything and caused the match between Voorburg and Dosti United to be called off as well.

The shortest of the three games which did get played, a 30-over affair between HBS and Excelsior ‘20 at Craeyenhout, was one of the most significant matches of the round, and turned out to be a last-over thriller.

After Tobias Visée won the toss and elected to bat, the Excelsior bowlers showed greater discipline in the gale-force winds than they had in balmier conditions earlier in the season, but the HBS top order seemed relatively untroubled in reaching 195 for four.

The highlight was a third-wicket stand of 77 between opener Zac Elkin and Sharn Gomes, the latter making an enterprising 34-ball 43 while Elkin batted throughout the innings for his unbeaten 77. There were smaller contributions, all at better than a run a ball, from Visée himself, Wesley Barresi and Zak Gibson.

Sohail Bhatti was the most economical member of the Excelsior attack, conceding just 22 runs in his five overs and claiming Barresi’s wicket.

The Schiedammers began cautiously on what was a fairly demanding chase, and even after both openers had gone the Caribbean partnership of Lorenzo Ingram and Branton Parchment took some time to gain momentum, leaving one wondering whether the task might not be beyond them.

Past the 15-over mark, however, the boundaries started to flow, and by the time Parchment was caught behind off Barresi for a 31-ball 37, the pair had added 82 runs in fourteen overs.

Ingram went on to make 79 from just 58 deliveries, batting with ever-greater confidence and hitting ten fours and a six, and when he holed out to Berend Westdijk at long on trying to hit Gibson into the Bosjes van Pex, only 19 were needed from 16 deliveries with four wickets in hand.

HBS fought to the last, but Sanjit Shankar and Umar Baker were equal to the task, Baker finishing it with a straight six off the penultimate ball.

One curious feature of the Excelsior innings was replicated, almost at the same moment, in the match between VRA Amsterdam and Quick Haag in the Amsterdam Bos: in both games the force of the wind caused the removal of the bails, and just at the same time that Tim Etman was surviving a claim that a Wessel Coster had nicked the stumps on its way through, Quick’s Bobby van Gigch had the better of a similar appeal by Vikram Singh.

Neither batsman survived much longer, but in the match in Amstelveen the crucial dismissal was that of Quick opener Jay Bista, who made 75 before being caught by Leon Turmaine off the bowling of Ben Cooper.

At that point, Quick had been 102 for one chasing VRA’s total of 185 in 40 overs, a score which they had reached thanks to a splendid 80 from former international Eric Szwarczynski, who shared a fourth-wicket stand of 73 with Peter Borren (35).

Of the remining VRA batsmen only Mitch Lees (24) reached double figures, while for Quick the new-ball pairing of Prathamesh Dake and Jay Bista claimed two wickets apiece.

Once Bista had been dismissed, with 84 still needed off 18 overs, the VRA attack fought back, restricting the scoring and forcing the batsmen into rash strokes.

Turmaine, Ben Cooper and Borren each took two wickets, and the asking rate gradually rose beyond achievable levels, with 34 required off the last three overs.

Quick could only manage 23, and VRA completed their first win of the season, with a margin of 10 runs.

At Hazelaarweg VOC Rotterdam, after a disappointing start to the season, had a comfortable 126-run win over Sparta 1888 in a match reduced to 36 overs.

But their top order once again failed to fire, and it took a sixth-wicket stand of 93 between Scott Edwards (41) and Jelte Schoonheim to enable them to recover from 54 for five and finish with 204.

Schoonheim played his first significant innings of the season, his 66 coming from 56 deliveries, with eight fours and two sixes.

The initial damage for Sparta had been largely caused by seamer Dost Muhammad, playing his first match of the year, who took four for 21 in just four overs.

204 turned out to be more than enough, as the Capelle side collapsed to 78 all out in less than 19 overs. Pierce Fletcher (three for 20) and Ashiqullah Said (three for 22) reduced them to 45 for five, and then Ramdas Upadhyaya ran through the middle and lower order for figures of four for 27, his best return in the Topklasse.

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