Rod Lyall 15/07/19
Excelsior ’20 extended their lead at the top of the table to three points, and their average-points lead to 0.13, with a hard-fought 28-run victory over ACC at Het Loopveld on Sunday.
It took an extremely disciplined effort by Excelsior in the field, with accurate bowling backed up by excellent fielding, to defend their fairly meagre total of 158 for seven, but so well did they maintain the pressure that ACC could only manage three fours – all from the bat of Jean Marais – and a single six by Anis Raza in the closing stages in their entire total of 130.
Excelsior had seemed to be well placed to post a much larger total when they were on 110 for two in the 31st over with Lorenzo Ingram and Brenton Parchment well set, but then spinner Saqib Zulfiqar and his seamer triplet Sikander applied the squeeze, and after the Schiedammers had lost three wickets in the space of five deliveries it was left to Tom Heggelman and Niels Etman to battle their way to a total they had some prospect of defending.
And they defended it with a will, Rens van Troost conceding only 20 runs in a wicketless but always probing 10-over spell, and Parchment and Ingram taking three wickets apiece, at a cost of 20 and 22 runs respectively.
Only Marais, top scorer in the match with a dogged 41, looked at all comfortable; and once he had gone the Zulfiqar brothers kept the scoreboard going for a time.
Sikander was eventually bowled by Sohail Bhatti, giving him his 250th wicket in the top flight, and when Saqib was run out four overs later the outcome was effectively settled.
Parchment and Ingram set their seal further on the match, the former pulling off a spectacular one-handed diving catch to dismiss Jamie Mulready, and the latter ending the game with a splendidly improvised handball-style run out.
At De Diepput HCC moved into second place, just ahead of ACC, with a comprehensive 8-wicket win over Quick Haag.
A 109-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Geert Marten Mol (72) and Jeroen Brand (56) enabled Quick to reach 203 for seven, with Hidde Overdijk again HCC’s spearhead with four for 36.
But HCC were untroubled in reaching their target with seven overs to spare: captain Tonny Staal made 50 out of an opening stand of 66 with Adam Wiffen, and after both openers had gone Bryce Street and Boris Gorlee put on 127 in an unbroken third-wicket partnership to finish the match.
Street ended on 71 while Gorlee, after hitting his maiden Topklasse half-century last week, repeated the trick to end on 55.
On HCC’s neighbouring second ground HBS Craeyenhout, whose own artificial outfield is being refurbished, lost by the same margin to VRA Amsterdam, who now seem to have rediscovered the winning habit with a vengeance.
After being put in HBS found themselves on 2 for three after just nine deliveries, Quirijn Gunning having removed Tobias Visée with the first ball of the match and Brandon Graber having dismissed Sharn Gomes and Navjit Singh with his first three balls.
That they were able to recover to 135 all out was due in large measure to an eighth-wicket stand of 58 between Wessel Coster (28) and Zak Gibson (44), while for VRA there were two wickets apiece for Gunning, Graber, Peter Borren and Adeel Raja, who claimed his 300th top-flight wicket in his 250th game.
It was a total which never seemed likely to trouble the Amsterdam side, and they took only 21.3 overs to complete the job: Eric Szwarczynski made 31 in an opening stand of 58 with Vikram Singh, who went on to make a 64-ball 73 not out, including eight fours and five sixes.
If HBS’s top-order collapse had been sensational, it was more than matched by Sparta 1888’s at Sportpark Drieburg where, chasing Dosti United’s 258 for seven, they were reduced to 2 for four and then to 10 for seven, before being dismissed in 10.4 overs for just 22.
There were nine ducks in the innings, certainly a record in the limited-overs era, with Garnett Tarr, on 10 not out, the only man to reach double figures.
Anees Davids was the main destroyer with seven for 6, including a hat-trick, while Kuleep Diwan claimed the remaining three wickets at a cost of 11 runs.
The match had begun normally enough, apart from a couple of stoppages for rain, with Vinoo Tewarie (39) and Abhinav Bali (58) putting on 107 for the first wicket and then Amitoze Singh contributing a run-a-ball 64.
Diwan chipped in with 43 in the closing overs, while for Sparta Sawan Sardha was the most successful bowler with three for 41.
The remaining match, between VOC Rotterdam and Voorburg, was abandoned well before the scheduled start because the Hazelaarweg ground was waterlogged after heavy rain.