Rod Lyall 03/08/20
Leaders Punjab Rotterdam and HCC both had comfortable wins on Sunday to preserve their unbeaten records, but most of the drama of the round came at the Bermweg, where Sparta 1888 hung on to achieve a remarkable one-wicket victory over Voorburg.
Chasing Voorburg’s relatively modest total of 191 for eight, Sparta began well, a useful third-wicket stand between Lenert van Wyk and Mudassar Bukhari, both of whom made 36, getting them almost halfway to their target.
But once they had gone, a mid-order collapse triggered by international leg-spinner Philippe Boissevain saw the home side slump from 104 for three to 150 for nine.
42 were still needed when Usman Saleem joined Nasratullah Ibrahimkil at the crease, and with Boissevain in rampant mood Voorburg appeared to be on the brink of victory.
But there were plenty of overs in hand, and Sparta’s final pair gradually picked off the runs, doing so so effectively that the winning runs came with 17 deliveries remaining. Boissevain finished with six for 34.
Earlier, Voorburg opener Righardt Pieterse had posted a maiden Topklasse half-century, facing 104 deliveries and sharing useful partnerships with Bas de Leede and Aryan Dutt.
Pieterse eventually became one of four victims for Manminder Singh (at a cost of 53 runs), who worked his way through the middle order, while Max Hoornweg collected three for 32.
The individual batting performance of the day again came from Punjab’s international opening batsman Stef Myburgh, who struck a 95-ball, unbeaten 127 as his side made short work of pursuing ACC’s 209 at the Zomercomplex. Myburgh hit 15 fours and eight sixes.
That ACC managed to reach 209 was due in large part to Aryan Kumar, playing for the first time this season, who came to the wicket at 123 for six and proceeded to make a brisk 51.
Sikander Zulfiqar took three for 49, and there was a brace of wickets apiece for his brother Saqib, Mubashar Hussain and Teja Nidamanuru.
Then Myburgh and Rehmat Zulfiqar got Punjab off to a lightning start, smacking 76 off the first ten overs and pushing their opening stand to 89 before Rehmat was bowled by Devanshu Arya for a 36-ball 41.
But Myburgh was unstoppable, adding 50 of a second-wicket stand of 62 with Asad Zulfiqar and a further 36 in a more equal partnership of 61 with Saqib Zulfiqar, who finished on 21.
The task for HCC’s batsmen at De Diepput was a good deal easier: HBS Craeyenhout never recovered from the early dismissal of the talismanic Tobias Visée, and were dismissed for 127, Ferdi Vink’s fighting 43 and his eighth-wicket stand of 52 with young Martijn Scholte the only bright spots in an otherwise disappointing effort.
All HCC’s bowlers had a piece of the action, with Clayton Floyd, Reinier Bijloos, Jan-Wieger Overdijk and Damian Crowley each picking up a couple of wickets and Olivier Klaus one.
In the absence of Boris Gorlee and Hidde Overdijk HCC might have experienced a mild flutter at 63 for three in reply, but Yash Patel and Felix Vecchi rose to the occasion, more than doubling the score in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand and making 34 and 32 respectively, seeing their side to a seven-wicket victory with almost half the overs remaining.
It is increasingly looking as if meeting between Punjab and HCC on 23 August will have the character of a non-title decider.
Another of Sunday’s absentees was VRA Amsterdam skipper Peter Borren, who split the webbing of his left hand during Friday evening’s T20 Cup match, and this led to Vikram Singh, at 17 years and 206 days, perhaps becoming the top division’s youngest-ever captain in the match against VOC Rotterdam in Amstelveen.
Singh led from the front after winning the toss, carrying his bat and making 72 not out as VRA were dismissed for 186, young spinner Luke Hartsink unable to bat because he, too, is carrying a hand injury.
The skipper was well supported by Mitch Lees, who made 42 in sixth-wicket stand of 71, while for VOC there were three wickets apiece for returning former international Ahsan Malik and for Ramdas Upadhyaya, at a cost of 23 and 35 respectively.
The Rotterdammers made a creditable fight of their response, with both Tim de Kok (38) and Corey Rutgers (44 not out) giving them some prospect of achieving their first win of the season, but the spin of Hartsink (two for 29) and veteran Adeel Raja (four for 34) proved too effective, and in the end Rutgers was left stranded with the total on 160.
On Saturday Excelsior ’20 Schiedam had secured their first points of the season with a thumping 180-run victory over Dosti-United Amsterdam at Thurlede.
The Schiedammers dominated from the outset, Luuk Kroesen and Roel Verhagen putting on 143 for the first wicket before the former was run out for 48, just short of a maiden Topklasse fifty and Verhagen then went on to a personal best of 85.
Then Kroesen’s eldest brother Joost contributed an unbeaten 60, he and Lorenzo Ingram (43 not out) pushing Excelsior’s total up to an imposing 296 for four.
Dosti never seemed likely to put up a serious challenge, and although Waheed Masood made a defiant 50-ball 56 before becoming one of four victims for keeper Verhagen, falling to the leg spin of Joost Kroesen.
The wickets were shared as Dosti’s innings closed on 116, Umar Baker and the third Kroesen, Gijs, picking up two each, and Luuk taking two for none in four deliveries to finish off what was little short of a Kroesen family triumph.