Rod Lyall 12/06/22
The structure of this season’s expanded Topklasse competition may not be to everyone’s liking, but the final round of Phase I matches on Saturday delivered plenty of interest, with the final placings in Group B in doubt almost to the end.
With the destination of Group A sides in the second phase already settled, most of the tension was located in Group B, where on Saturday morning three teams were still in contention for the two available places in the Championship pool alongside group leaders Voorburg.
By half past five one of the contenders, VRA Amsterdam had lost to Voorburg, but they had done enough to ensure that regardless of the outcome of the match between Excelsior ’20 Schiedam and VOC Rotterdam they would finish in the top three of the group.
The winners of that latter game would leapfrog over them into second place, while the losers would be heading into the Relegation pool, and at that stage the match was delicately poised, with Excelsior on 130 for three chasing VOC’s total of 213 for eight.
Excelsior’s seam attack had earlier done well to contain the VOC batting line-up, which had collapsed to 87 for five before 35 from Tim de Kok, 38 from Burhan Niaz and an unbeaten 35 from Pieter Seelaar, batting in an unaccustomed spot at nine, enabled them to post a score which they had some prospect of defending.
At 85 for three there seemed to be a chance that Excelsior were in trouble, but Lorenzo Ingram now took over, sharing a useful stand of 56 with Tom Heggelman and then adding another 73 in company with Brett Hampton, carrying his side to a six-wicket victory and into the Championship pool.
Ingram ended on 86 not out, made from just 80 deliveries, and Hampton had 31 not out as Excelsior won with two overs to spare.
At Westvliet, Voorburg skipper Bas de Leede’s 111-ball 81 was the foundation of his side’s 231 for seven against VRA, Aryan Dutt taking three for 38 for the Amsterdammers.
VRA knew that even if they lost a margin of less than about 115 would be sufficient to see them into the top three, but when Delano Potgieter and Karl Nieuwoudt reduced them to 21 for four inside nine overs that suddenly appeared a remote secondary target.
Voorburg had rested internationals Viv Kingma and Logan van Beek in advance of next week’s Super League series against England, but such are their resources that they scarcely seemed to miss them, and although the VRA middle order recovered sufficiently to get the deficit under 100, Udit Nashier making 38, Peter Borren 28 and Mitch Lees a hard-hitting 25-ball 36, Ali Ahmad Qasim ran through the tail for figures of three for 46, and the Amsterdam side were all out for 159.
In the remaining Group B game, in Deventer, Salland too had a shaky start chasing Dosti Amsterdam’s meagre 103, two wickets for Asief Hoseinbaks and a run out reducing them to 17 for three, but Sahir Naqash (49 not out) and Victor Lubbers (41 not out) then steered their side to a seven-wicket victory.
Earlier, Victor and his brother Reinder had had Dosti on the ropes at 39 for five, and then Hashim Khan picked up four for 23 to complete the demolition work.
The two points from this game may well stand Salland in very good stead in the relegation battles to come.
Crucial points in the struggle to avoid relegation were also at stake at the Bermweg, where Kampong Utrecht were looking to secure a first win against one of their rivals at the lower end of the table, home side Sparta 1888.
After bowling their side into a potential winning position against ACC last Monday, only to see the match rained off, the Kampong attack quickly seized the initiative after Sparta had elected to bat, and with Alex Roy collecting three early wickets, including that of the prolific Samit Gohil, Sparta soon found themselves on 45 for five.
Faisal Iqbal fought a rearguard action with his side’s top score of 29, but they were all out for 102, Tushar Sharma completing what Roy had started with three for 14 in the closing stages.
Ahsan Malik again created early pressure when Kampong replied, taking three for 30, but Pite van Biljon made an unbeaten 26-ball 47, and with Pierre Jacod contributing 17 not out the Utrecht side completed a six-wicket win with more than 28 overs to spare.
At the other end of the Group A table HBS Craeyenhout made sure of finishing on top with an impressive 85-run victory over defending champions and long-time group leaders Punjab Rotterdam.
Their total of 285 for five, the second-highest of the season to date, was mostly due to a second-wicket stand of 122 between Tayo Walbrugh and Wesley Barresi; Walbrugh narrowly missed out on a third century of the season when he was leg-before to Safiullah Salarazai for 94, but Barresi went on to post his eleventh top-flight hundred and his third for HBS, making a 119-ball 113, with eleven fours and two sixes, before he was out three deliveries before the end.
Salarazai came in for some punishment, but finished with three for 67.
It soon became evident that the chase was beyond Punjab, and although Jonathan Vandiar contributed 37 and there were smaller contributions from Saqib and Sikander Zulfiqar, they were dismissed for 200 in 44.4 overs; Julian de Mey claimed three for 39 and Ferdi Vink, cleaning up at the end, three for 35.
At De Diepput HCC consolidated their third position with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over ACC, dismissing their visitors for 123, Tim Pringle taking four for 23, and knocking off the runs with more than 25 overs to spare, Zac Worden making 41 and Tonny Staal 38 not out.