And then there were three

Rod Lyall 20/07/20

There are three unbeaten sides – VRA, Punjab and HCC — after Sunday’s third round of matches in this season’s competition-that-isn’t, while in a table still notable for its symmetry there are also three teams still in search of a win.

In the only game of the day which matched up two previously-unbeaten sides HCC were clear-winners of a hard-fought battle with Voorburg at Westvliet.

The contest turned on a 123-run partnership for HCC’s sixth wicket between Boris Gorlee and Hidde Overdijk, which took them in the space of 26 overs from a fairly perilous 74 for four to a much healthier 197 for five with five overs remaining for a final flourish.

Overdijk was the enterprising of the pair, his 61 coming from 75 deliveries, while Gorlee continued into the final over of the innings before falling to opposing skipper Bas de Leede for a solid 121-ball 81.

There were two wickets apiece for Viv Kingma, Ali Ahmed Qasim and De Leede as HCC sloed on 235 for seven.

Righardt Pieterse and Tom de Grooth began encouragingly for Voorburg, the total reaching 43 before Overdijk secured the breakthrough, and then De Leede and Floris de Lange made a bid to match Gorlee and Overdijk’s contribution by putting on 64 for the fourth wicket.

Then, however, with the total on the dreaded 111, the first of four wickets for Musa Ahmad saw the Voorburg captain depart for 38, followed by three more in the space of six deliveries without addition to the score.

Ahmad himself claimed three in five balls, and with Clayton Floyd removing De Lange for 30 the game w effectively over.

Alyan Razzaqi and Kingma showed a little defiance, but the innings closed on 148, Ahmad finishing with four for 26.

At the Hazelaarweg Punjab’s Stef Myburgh posted the first century of the competition, his 105 not out more than matching Pieter Seelaar’s unbeaten 93 for VOC and guiding his side to a six-wicket victory.

Seelaar’s determined effort stiffened the Bloodhounds’ resolve after Suleiman Tariq had grabbed three early wickets to threaten another VOC collapse, and a half-century stand with Arnav Jain (21) and then one of 97 with Corey Rutgers (43) enabled them to reach 197 for six.

Much as that was an improved effort by VOC it seemed unlikely to trouble Punjab’s powerful batting line-up, and Myburgh got them off to a flying start by plundering two fours and a six off Jain’s opening over.

He received valuable support from brothers Rehmat, Asad and Saqib Zulfiqar and from Yasir Usman, but it was Myburgh who dominated the innings against a fairly pedestrian VOC attack further hindered by the absence of Seelaar, and Punjab cruised to victory with almost twelve overs to spare.

The defeat of last year’s champions, Excelsior ’20 Schiedam, by VRA Amsterdam at Thurlede was, if anything, even more convincing.

Put in to bat by Excelsior captain-for-the-day Joost Kroesen, VRA made 244 before they were dismissed in the last of their overs, the engine-room of the returning Eric Szwarczynski, Ben Cooper and Peter Borren, with a total of 630 top-flight games between them, exacting a heavy toll upon Excelsior’s young and experienced attack.

Szwarczynski showed that he is still one of the finest batsmen in the competition with a composed 61 in his first knock of the season, while Cooper contributed 49 and Borren 50, while it was Sohail Bhatti, also playing for the first time this year, who was the most successful of the Excelsior bowlers with three for 45.

The Schiedammers were on the back foot from the moment Borren and keeper Szwarczynski combined to remove young Luuk Kroesen with the first ball of their reply, and while Roel Verhagen and Joost Kroesen added 49 for the second wicket, each making 24, their departures signalled a disappointing effort by the depleted champions.

Quirijn Gunning struck the decisive blow, removing danger-man Lorenzo Ingram, and he then worked his way through the middle and lower order, taking four for 31 and probably deserving more.

Borren and Adeel Raja each collected a brace, and Excelsior were ultimately dismissed for 95 in just 28.1 overs, giving VRA a 149-run victory and taking them to the top of the table on net run rate.

The quickest result of the day came at Craeyenhout, where home side HBS made short work of their game against trouble-plagued Dosti United.

Mahesh Hans, another stand-in skipper in the absence of Vinoo Tewarie, elected to bat first, but his side were soon on the way to another disappointing total.

Their 84 was something of an improvement on their previous efforts, but they had little chance of holding an HBS side in which, as it turned out, Tobias Visée was in his most rampant mood.

It was Wessel Coster who was the main destroyer of the Dosti innings, taking five for 26, while Benno Boddendijk played his part by taking three catches to claim the first three wickets by the time the total reached 20; only Touseef Ahmed showed any real resistance, making 23.

Then Visée took over, his 67 coming from just 24 deliveries and including six fours and five sixes, two of them so massive that the balls were irretrievable.

He perished just before the end, caught behind off Ahmed, but Coster and Reece Mason completed the nine-wicket victory in just 9.1 overs.

ACC’s defeat of Sparta 1888 at Het Loopveld began in dramatic fashion, 16-year-old seamer Mees van Vliet bowling Sawan Sardha and Faisal Iqbal with the first two deliveries of the match.

He went on to claim two more wickets and finish with four for 39, and with Charles McInerney taking four for 26 and Antony Alangara Napoleon two for 6 Sparta could only manage 101; opener Prithviraj Balwantsingh top-scored with 29.

Iqbal struck back when ACC replied, removing McInerney with the third ball he faced, but 35 from Clayton Burnett and smaller contributions from Jamieson Mulready and Anis Raza were enough to give the home side a comfortable five-wicket win.

Max Hoornweg put them under as much pressure as he could with the scalps of all three of the principal scorers, but in the end the Sparta total was too small to be defended, and ACC won with more than 20 overs to spare.

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