Excelsior close in on the title

Rod Lyall 05/08/19

Excelsior’s third Topklasse title in four years began to look like a formality at De Diepput on Sunday, as Tom Heggelman’s side again defended a fairly modest total and beat HCC, their nearest challengers, by a comfortable 49-run margin.

That said, the match was a harder-fought affair than those bare facts suggest, and when the visitors, having elected to bat first, were reduced to 66 for four by a disciplined HCC attack it seemed possible that the home crowd might be rewarded with a crucial victory.

But then Joost Kroesen joined Brenton Parchment at the crease, and their 108-run stand for the fifth wicket laid the foundations for a substantial total.

Parchment’s 77 was his most significant contribution of the season with the bat, his first Topklasse half-century, but when Ali Ahmed Qasim, who had earlier dismissed both Excelsior openers, returned to remove both Kroesen for 42 and then Parchment in the space of five deliveries, the innings subsided disappointingly.

The last four wickets added only 25 runs and Excelsior were dismissed for 201 in exactly 48 overs, Qasim finishing with four for 39.

It should have been a gettable target, but the Schiedammers have developed a speciality in protecting lower totals than this, and they again combined accurate bowling with determined fielding as they restricted HCC to 152.

It would have been a good deal less had they not been so profligate with the chances offered by Hidde Overdijk, whose 46 was a defiant effort which saw him dropped three or four times along the way; coming in at 53 for four, he took his side to 151 for eight before his luck evaporated and he was somewhat unfortunately run out.

That spelled the end, and with Umar Baker, Lorenzo Ingram, Heggelman and Sohail Bhatti collecting a brace of wickets apiece, HCC were left to reflect on what might have been. They could still steal the title, but only if they win all three of their remaining matches and Excelsior lose twice.

ACC, another potential challenger for the championship, saw their hopes destroyed in the space of the first ten overs at Hazelaarweg, where VOC Rotterdam reduced them to 11 for five.

That they recovered to 174 for nine was due to a spirited fightback by Bas van der Heyde (36), Anis Raza (41) and Brady Barends, whose unbeaten 64 came at almost a run a ball and included eight fours and a six.

The initial onslaught came from Ashiqullah Said and Bobby Hanif, the latter finishing with three for 24 as he proved an outstanding replacement for Pierce Fletcher with the new ball.

VOC lost Sebastiaan van Lent and Max O’Dowd early in their reply, but once Pieter Seelaar and Scott Edwards came together the result was never really in doubt: Edwards was stumped by young Jamie Mulready off Devanshu Arya after making a 42-ball 55 which included six fours and three sixes, but Seelaar remained to the end, making a run-a-ball 64 as his side won by five wickets with more than eighteen overs to spare.

ACC’s defeat allowed HBS Craeyenhout to move into third place, thanks to their 30-run victory over Voorburg at De Diepput’s second ground.

An unbeaten 112 by Sharn Gomes, his third century of the season, and a stand of 97 with Wesley Barresi enabled HBS to recover from 17 for three and reach 232 for seven, although Voorburg were doubtless impeded by the requirement by the national team management that Brandon Glover and Viv Kingma bowl no more than five overs each.

Noah Croes then responded with his maiden Topklasse hundred, but he received too little support from the rest of the side, and despite his 107 and 34 from David Humphrey Voorburg were dismissed for 202, Wessel Coster taking four for 30.

Sparta 1888 and Quick Haag both lost, and it now seems virtually certain that one of the pair will be relegated.

Peter Borren’s eighth top-flight century was the basis of VRA Amsterdam’s total of 248 against Sparta in the Amsterdamse Bos; after opener Vikram Singh made 36, Borren and Ben Cooper (58) shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 76, and Borren was eventually last out for 108.

Joost Maarten Snoep was the most successful of Sparta’s bowlers, claiming two early wickets and coming back to pick up two more and finish with four for 70.

Andrew Fletcher and Saqlain Tasawar Iqbal gave Sparta’s reply a decent start with an opening stand of 68, but progress was slow, and after Fletcher departed for 58 only Mudassar Bukhari, who made 52, was able to make a substantial contribution.

VRA were unable to bowl their opponents out, but with Quirijn Gunning taking three for 40 the total of 198 for nine left the Capelle side exactly 50 short of VRA’s total.

It took a fighting 65 from skipper Vinoo Tewarie to enable Dosti United to reach 172 all out against Quick Haag at Sportpark Drieburg; he and Rahil Ahmed shared a half-century opening stand, but after Tewarie was dismissed only Kuldeep Diwan’s 29 saw Dosti to a defendable total.

Sumeet Diwan took three for 26, with Prathamesh Dake, Thijs van Schelven and Jay Bista claiming two wickets each.

But 172 turned out to be more than enough, as Quick were bowled out for 117, Stefan Ekelmans their top scorer with 24.

Kuldeep Diwan struck a vital blow when he had Jay Bista caught behind for just 9, and finished with three for 19, making him the Topklasse’s leading wicket-taker along with ACC’s Brady Barends with three matches to go.

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