Group B tightens; Kampong and Sparta provide a last-ball thriller

Rod Lyall 16/05/22

The Group B table tightened considerably at the weekend, as both VOC Rotterdam and Salland recorded their second victories of the Topklasse campaign, moving to within one win of Excelsior ’20 and VRA Amsterdam and boosting their hopes of making it into the Championship group in the competition’s second phase.

VOC’s thumping 222-run demolition of Excelsior featured a remarkable return to form by Tim de Kok, whose first four innings of the season had yielded just 11 runs, but who now multiplied that by ten as he hammered a 72-ball 110 which included twelve fours and five sixes.

De Kok shared a 159-run stand for the fifth wicket with Pieter Seelaar (68) after VOC, who had made a decent start with 37 apiece from openers Scott Edwards and Max O’Dowd, had suffered a minor collapse to reach 111 for four.

With Jelte Schoonheim and Ayaz Durrani plundering 37 off the last three overs VOC finished on 317 for six, the highest total by any side this season, and then young Belgian international Burhan Niaz ran through the Excelsior line-up, taking six for 10 in ten overs to reduce the Schiedammers to 64 for eight.

Niels Etman showed some resistance with an unbeaten 21, but Schoonheim claimed the last two wickets for just one run as Excelsior were all out for 95.

Salland skipper Victor Lubbers had an enjoyable day out at Sportpark Drieburg on Sunday, leading his side to a five-wicket victory over Dosti Amsterdam by taking four for 27 and then making 56 not out as Salland chased down Dosti’s total of 187.

Dosti’s innings was built around Waqas Raja’s 55 and 33 from Mahesh Hans, but with Gul Ahmed Nasir taking three for 48 and the rest of the attack giving Lubbers and Nasir excellent support the home side never really achieved any momentum.

Lubbers then shared useful stands with Talha Khan and Elam Bharathi, both of whom made 32, and Salland reached their target with 11.1 overs to spare.

Group B leaders Voorburg did not have things all their own way in the Amsterdamse Bos, despite reducing VRA to 49 for six with 13 overs.

Jack Balbirnie (29) and Udit Nashier (42) instituted a recovery of sorts, and with 21 not out from Mitch Lees the Amsterdammers battled their way to 153 before Shariz Ahmad finished the innings off with three wickets for 21.

Voorburg reached 46 for one in reply, but when Eduard Visser grabbed three wickets in the space of twelve balls, removing Bas de Leede, Delano Potgieter and Tom de Grooth in quick succession, they suddenly needed to rebuild.

They were rescued by Logan van Beek, in the side for the first time this season, who made 57 not out and, in company first with Karl Nieuwoudt and then with Mohit Hinorani, saw them safely home; Visser finished with three for 52 for VRA.

The much-anticipated clash at the Zomercomplex between the unbeaten Group A leaders, Punjab Rotterdam and HBS Craeyenhout, turned out to be an anticlimax, with HBS collapsing dramatically to 57 all out and losing one of the shortest matches in Topklasse history by nine wickets.

Suleiman Tariq and Safiullah Salarazai did the early damage for Punjab, taking three for 26 and three for 21 respectively, while Ashiqullah Said claimed three for 3 in 18 deliveries to clean up the HBS tail; only Wesley Barresi, with 19, reached double figures.

Stephan Myburgh belted a 21-ball 38 when Punjab replied, hitting six fours and two sixes, and with Rehmat Zulfiqar making a run-a-ball 22 not out the Rotterdammers needed only 7.2 overs to reach their target, greatly improving their net run rate in the process.

What that match lacked in tension was more than made up for elsewhere, with the other two Group A matches going into the final over.

A third-wicket partnership of 128 between Shreyas Potdar (59) and Robin Smith, who went on to make 101 not out from 83 deliveries with five fours and six sixes, was the foundation of ACC’s 239 for six at Het Loopveld, as the generally-impressive HCC attack found itself a good deal less dominant than usual.

But the ACC bowlers did not find the conditions any more helpful: Zac Worden (53) made his fifth consecutive half-century, sharing an opening stand of 92 with Tony Staal (40), and then Boris Gorlee kept his side in the hunt with 79 from 80 deliveries.

Even so, the Amsterdammers held their nerve, and although HCC had wickets in hand it took them until the fourth ball of the final over to hit the winning run.

That tension, however, was as nothing compared to events at Maarschalkerweerd, where Kampong Utrecht and Sparta 1888 reached the final delivery of the game with the scores level and all results still possible.

Kampong had battled their way to 211 all out, Cole Briggs making 53 and Mudassar Bukhari, Samit Gohil, Nasrat Ibrahimkhil and Tom Hoornweg all picking up two wickets for Sparta, and at 111 for four Sparta seemed to be comfortably placed for the win.

But the Kampong bowlers continued to take wickets, and it was left to Bukhari to steer his side home as partners came and went at the other end.

Nine runs were still required when the ninth Sparta wicket fell off the final delivery of the penultimate over, and although Bukhari lifted some of the pressure by hitting a six off the third ball of Shivdutt Singh Jhala’s last, he could only manage a single from the next to level the scores.

Last man Hoornweg defended the last but one, but then knocked the final ball into the covers to complete the most exciting of victories.

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