Rod Lyall and Bertus de Jong 20/08/20
It’s not difficult to spot the Match of the Day this week, with the top two sides meeting in what would effectively be the championship decider if there were a championship to decide. But there are some other tasty encounters on the agenda as well, if you’re a real cricket lover or – a more numerous species in the Netherlands – a passionate enthusiast for your club.
RL: Just one point ahead after last Sunday’s DLS tie, leaders HCC make the challenging trip to the Zomercomplex to take on Punjab Rotterdam. The game pits the best batting combination in the competition, which slaughtered the Sparta bowling last week, against the most effective attack, while the corresponding match-up between HCC’s top and middle order and Punjab’s bowlers is less imposing but nevertheless potentially decisive. Even the toss whets the appetite: if Suleiman Tariq wins if for the home side, should he opt for runs on the board or rely on his batters’ awesome chasing capacity; should Tonny Staal call correctly, would it be better to try to get amongst the Punjab top order early and risk a massive chase, or to look to set a target his bowlers can defend? Either way, I know where I would want to be on Sunday if it didn’t involve a 24-hour journey!
BdJ:HCC’s attack has unquestionably impressed thus far, but containing a rampant Myburgh, especially within the limited confines of the Zomercomplex, will prove a tougher task than they have faced thus far, and with an enviably deep batting order behind him avoiding a Myburgh onslaught will likely be necessary but not sufficient to keep Punjab to a manageable total. The point HCC took from Thurlede last week effectively overturned Punjab’s considerable net run rate advantage, however, and with the Rotterdammers facing the tougher final fixture away at VRA next week the hosts will arguably be under the greater pressure come Sunday.
RL: It’s a real test of character to come back from a mauling like the one Sparta 1888’s Bukhari-less attack was handed by Punjab last Sunday, although the batters will have been given heart by their display and especially by the century from Lenert van Wyk. They return to the Bermweg to entertain VRA Amsterdam, who fought all the way against Voorburg but whose batting had ultimately not given the bowlers enough to play with. Capelle a/d IJssel is never an easy place for visiting teams, but VRA will hope to get more from their top order against the Sparta attack, while the home side will be hoping that Ben Cooper doesn’t decide to cut loose in the way that Myburgh and Nidamanuru did for Punjab last week.
BdJ: With the weight of runs he’d accumulated in the T20 competition it seemed almost inevitable that van Wyk would start cashing in in the longer format soon enough, and there’s little reason to believe he’s run out of steam. Yet VRA’s chief strength has been the batting quality of some of their youngsters, and perhaps as much the adequacy of the rest, coupled with the fact that their Pros are both Dutch and Dutch-based. Thus even another ton from van Wyk may not be enough, though with weather expected to play a role VRA’s greater depth may not be as influential as they might hope.
RL: Voorburg had a couple of unquiet moments towards the end of their modest run chase in the Amsterdamse Bos but their attack proved its strength against Borren and Co. and will expect to find Dosti-United Amsterdam a considerably less menacing proposition. The Amsterdammers put up their best batting performance of the season against ACC, both Shahdab Ghori and Mahesh Hans making half-centuries, but the new-ball pairing of Kingma and Qasim, not to mention Philippe Boissevain’s leg spin, will give them plenty to think about as they try to consolidate the progress they have gradually made. The solidity of Voorburg’s batting, especially in the absence of Tom de Grooth, remains a cause for concern, but the question is whether Dosti have the bowlers to exploit that weakness.
BdJ: It would be easy to make too much of Dosti’s first serious total last week given that it came against and ACC side bowling to defend, and comfortably defending, a much higher target. But nonetheless the Amsterdammers showed a capacity to make runs even in the absence of skipper Vinoo Tewarie, and both Waheed Masood and Mahesh Hans continued to prove themselves capable of taking wickets. Dosti’s performances have been trending irregularly upwards since their admittedly abject start, having come close to finding their first points against VOC the week before. They remain underdogs against VCC of course, coming up against an attack that undid VRA’s much more resilient line-up last week, but at least don’t look like rolling over just yet.
RL: Both winners last week, HBS Craeyenhout and ACC meet in Den Haag with a chance of finishing in the right half of the table. ACC are currently fifth, but their margin over their hosts is just one win, and on paper they look pretty evenly matched. The fact that HBS got to 251 last Sunday despite the early loss of Tobias Visée should encourage them enormously, and it’s a good sign that Julian de Mey and Navjit Singh were able to bat with so much self-possession. ACC, on the other hand, saw Charles McInerney and Chris Knoll do the same job for them, while both sides have attacks which are hard-working rather than spectacular. Sander Geenevasen can scarcely expect ACC’s top order to thrash about as accommodatingly as VOC’s did last Sunday, but the combination of his seam bowling with that of Wessel Coster and Singh, along with the spin of De Mey and Adil Ahmed, may be enough to give HBS the edge.
BdJ: ACC have continued to outperform expectations through the season, most notably with the bat. The likes of Ramesh Babu, McInerney, Potdar, Kothari and now Knoll have all stepped up in turn to plug the holes left by the Zulfiqar exodus, but the bowling remains a vulnerability. Last week Dosti tripled their tally of half-centuries for the season against them, while Marcus Andrew and Stephan Myburgh have shown that a suitably aggressive bat, with good luck and a following wind, can take the ACC attack entirely apart. Such a one is Toby Visee, and with the rest of the HBS line up looking somewhat less vulnerable the skipper may allow himself a measure of freedom come Sunday. “Gotta get Visee early” is such a Topklasse truism at this point that it’s scarcely worth saying, but one feels it is doubly true for ACC.
RL: Both VOC Rotterdam and Excelsior ’20 Schiedam were chasing hard last Sunday when the weather closed in, but the Rotterdammers had to leave Craeyenhout empty- handed while Excelsior were able to escape with a point from their tie at De Diepput. Last season’s encounter between these sides at Hazelaarweg was a hard-fought, ill-tempered affair, and it is to be hoped that the atmosphere is a little more congenial this time. Excelsior owed their point last week to Lorenzo Ingram’s mastery in a tight situation, and they will be hoping he can continue in that vein against VOC, for whom Corey Rutgers’ contributions with the bat are scarcely less crucial. But Ahsan Malik was also impressive against HBS in the unfamiliar role of middle-order batter, while Jelte Schoonheim has been bowling as well as ever. The Schiedammers, of course, are a very young side, but their bowling unit maintained the pressure well against HCC, and if the batters are still gaining experience they have done enough to show that they will eventually blend into a significant line-up.
BdJ: Coming into the season missing the majority of their first team, VOC were keen to downplay their ambitions for the Summer, and fair to say they have lived down to those low expectations. That said, on return from semi-retirement, Rutgers has done a decent job of marshaling the resources available to him. Even if their sole points thus far have come against Dosti, the Belgium head coach has stepped up admirably in the absence of Pieter Seelaar and with Hanif and Malik back for the tail end of the season the Rotterdammers no longer look like walkovers. That said, Seelaar’s absence does rather undermine VOC’s traditional home advantage at the spin-friendly Hazelaarweg, and with Inrgam and Umar Baker (who has plenty of experience at his former home ground) the visitors arguably have an attack better suited to the conditions.
Rod Lyall’s tips: Punjab, Sparta, Voorburg, HBS, Excelsior.
Bertus de Jong’s tips: Punjab, VRA, Voorburg, HBS, Excelsior.