Punjab and HCC go top

Rod Lyall 28/07/20

What could have been one of the most attractive fixtures of this shortened season turned out to be a rout, in part because of an accident of the calendar.

The last weekend of July is traditionally cricket-free in the Netherlands, but this year, after a cricket-free May and June, the KNCB was forced to use 26 July as part of its revised competitions schedules.

The result was a number of significant absences of players who had long ago taken advantage of the break in the programme to book holidays, and no side was more adversely affected by this than VRA Amsterdam, who were forced to field six under-18 players for their top-of-the-table clash with HCC at De Diepput.

But that cannot by itself account for VRA’s dramatic collapse to 39 all out, the team’s third-lowest total in half a century, nor does it detract from HCC’s overall superiority, and especially the performance of seamers Hidde Overdijk and Reinier Bijloos, who bowled unchanged through the 15.5 overs of the VRA innings and finished with five for 27 and three for 11 respectively.

In the circumstances the Amsterdammers needed both Ben Cooper and Peter Borren to rise to the occasion, but they were only able to contribute 8 runs between them, and with Shirase Rasool, the only man to reach double figures, run out for 12, HCC faced little real resistance.

Earlier, Damian Crowley had been the sheet-anchor of the home side’s 206 for seven with a solid 62, receiving good support from Overdijk (30) in a fourth-wicket stand of 53, while Clayton Floyd and Yash Patel did well in the closing stages to get their side past the 200 mark in a match reduced to 45 overs a side after heavy overnight rain.

Teenager Ashir Abid gave VRA a good start with two early wickets, and later returned to remove Overdijk and to finish with three for 17.

None of the other four matches suffered an overs reduction, although Punjab Rotterdam’s encounter with Dosti Amsterdam was completed in short order, taking fewer than 51 overs in total.

Having struggled with the bat in their first three games, Dosti began surprisingly well, reaching 84 for one thanks to 45 from skipper Vinoo Tewarie and 28 from keeper Satish Ravichandran, who put on 68 for the second wicket.

Tewarie’s dismissal, however, triggered another collapse, and the Amsterdammers could add only 33 runs for their remaining eight wickets, with Sikander Zulfiqar the main agent of their destruction, taking five for 36.

Suleiman Tariq came back to clean up the tail and finish with four for 30, and Punjab needed just 25 overs to complete another comfortable victory and move to the top of the table, with Saqib Zulfiqar and Teja Nidamanuru steering their side home with an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 61.

The highest total and best individual knock of the day came at Craeyenhout, where Sparta 1888 celebrated the switching of their match against HBS to their opponents’ home ground by posting 306 for six, thanks to an unbeaten, 126-ball 120 from skipper Mudassar Bukhari.

Bukhari shared a third-wicket stand of 52 with Lenert van Wyk (47), who was making his first Topklasse appearance for the Capelle club, and one of 101 for the sixth wicket with Manminder Singh (48).

The Sparta captain then struck twice early in the HBS reply, and although his opposite number Tobias Visée responded with a typically-defiant 19-ball 51, once he was stumped by Ali Raza off Faisal Iqbal’s bowling any chance of Sparta’s total coming under serious threat was effectively gone.

Ferdi Vink and Julien de Mey put up some degree of resistance, but both fell to Singh, who finished with four for 18 as HBS were dismissed for 116.

The tensest battle was in a low-scoring battle at Het Loopveld, where VOC Rotterdam almost succeeded in defending their total of 139, only to see ACC pull off a two-wicket victory with three deliveries to spare.

Arnav Jain’s 42 was the highlight of the VOC innings, with smaller contributions from Tim de Kok and stand-in captain Corey Rutgers, Pieter Seelaar being absent through injury.

Ammar Zaidi was the most successful of ACC’s bowlers with four for 29, while there were two wickets apiece for Antony Alangara Napoleon and Devanshu Arya.

ACC, too, lost wickets at regular intervals, and at 68 for six seemed to be heading for defeat. But their innings was rescued by an aggressive 40 from Sahil Kothari, well supported by a painstaking knock from Mees van Vliet.

Still, 22 were still needed when Kothari was bowled by Bobby Hanif, and VOC were still in with a shout when Van Vliet was run out with nine required and 13 deliveries remaining.

Ram Ramesh Babu and Alangara Napoleon were equal to the challenge, however, and were able to secure the points for their side.

Voorburg were able to thank a 133-run partnership for the second wicket between Bas de Leede (68) and Aryan Dutt (64) for their comfortable victory over a young Excelsior ‘20 side at Westvliet.

That stand, coming after Lorenzo Ingram had removed both openers with just 13 on the board, created the platform for a total of 221 for eight, which always seemed likely to be too much for the Schiedammers.

Excelsior began their reply cautiously, but then spinner Dutt started to work his way through their line-up, finishing with four for 38 including the priceless wicket of Ingram, and although Rens van Troost, who had earlier taken three for 37, made a solid 42 the game flowed steadily in Voorburg’s favour.

De Leede came back to finish things off, taking three for 21, and Excelsior were all out for 179 in the 48th over.

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