VOC have the final word

Rod Lyall 31/08/20

Overnight rain had left conditions ranging from dampish to inundated, and the result was that two Topklasse matches were abandoned without a ball being bowled, one of them meaning that for Excelsior ’20 the season ended as it had begun, in inactivity.

But the weather also played its part in one of the season’s surprises, HCC surrendering their unbeaten record at the hands of VOC Rotterdam in a game in which the table-toppers found that Messrs Duckworth, Lewis and Stern had loaded the dice irretrievably against them.

Much of the credit for VOC’s victory, however, went to Tim de Kok and Jelte Schoonheim, whose unbroken fifth-wicket partnership saw their side recover from an unpromising position to one in which, when the innings was terminated prematurely by another shower, the DLS calculation worked in their favour.

A late start meant that the match had been reduced to 27 overs before it began, but only 21 overs were possible before the rain intervened, and by this time VOC had reached 141 for four, De Kok on 83 not out and Schoonheim on 39.

The DLS calculation then set HCC a target of 167, a smidgeon below eight and over, and when Tonny Staal and Damian Crowley fell in the first two overs of their reply the task became close to insuperable.

As long as Musa Ahmad was there HCC still had some hope, but eventually the side were dismissed for 141, slipping to a 26-run defeat.

In the Amsterdamse Bos, meanwhile, Punjab Rotterdam made light work of beating VRA Amsterdam by six wickets, despite an opening stand of 178 between Eric Szwarczynski and Ben Cooper.

Cooper was finally adjudged leg-before on 99, made from 100 deliveries with nine fours, and although Szwarczynski remained there until the end, completing his tenth top-flight century and finishing on 120 not out, the Punjab bowlers did well enough to restrict the home side to 261 for seven, no-one else except Mitch Lees reaching double figures.

Suleiman Tariq harried the middle order, and his three for 38 left him as the season’s leading wicket-taker with 19 at 19.26 apiece.

A knee injury to the most prolific batter of the year, Stef Myburgh, might have handicapped Punjab’s reply, but Asad Zulfiqar stepped into the breach, and his opening partnership of 75 with elder brother Rehmat, who contributed 31, set the tone for the innings.

Rehmat was succeeded by Teja Nidamanuru, whose 45 came from 50 deliveries and included three sixes, and then by Saqib Zulfiqar, and by the time Asad was dismissed for 85 only 62 were needed with plenty of overs left.

Saqib and Sikander Zulfiqar added another 54, and Saqib continued in company with Kashif Khan to the end, making 47 not out and taking his side to victory with 14 deliveries to spare.

Sparta 1888 took full advantage of the opportunity to leapfrog VRA and move into fourth place by beating winless Dosti-United Amsterdam at the Bermweg, but the game was a good deal more hard-fought than it seemed likely to be when Dosti had been reduced to 14 for five and then to 50 for seven.

A patient, unbeaten 71 from Naqasiva Perumal, who marshalled the lower order so successfully that the last three wickets more than trebled the total, Asief Hoseinbaks contributing 37 as Dosti battled their way to 175 all out.

Joost Martijn Snoep, who finished with three for 21 and Max Hoornweg grabbed the first five wickets, and then Lenert van Wyk claimed three for 43 as he worked his way through the middle and lower order.

Van Wyk’s 40-ball 45 got Sparta off to a brisk start, and when Ali Raza made an uncharacteristically steady 52 the Capelle side seemed to be cruising to a comfortable victory.

But Vinoo Tewarie hit back with three for 8 in three overs of leg spin which included the dismissal of Raza, sixth out with 16 still required, and suddenly the game had tightened appreciably.

Waheed Masood, who had earlier removed both openers, returned to dismiss Max Hoornweg and, with the scores level, Sawan Sardha, but it all came too late and Sparta squeezed home by two wickets, though with a massive 15.4 overs to spare.

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