Rod Lyall 28/08/2022
Victories for second-placed HCC and for Excelsior ’20 on Saturday set up a final-round clash which would determine which of the two sides would join Voorburg in next week’s first semi-final, with a double chance of reaching the grand final on 10 September.
HCC had to battle all the way to overcome VRA Amsterdam at De Diepput, a defeat for the Amsterdam side which ended their already slim hopes of squeezing into the semi-finals.
After winning the toss and electing to bat HCC were soon reduced to 38 for four, including a bizarre first wicket when opener Joost Kooistra instinctively used his hand to deflect the ball away from his stumps and was given out Obstructing the field, the first such dismissal in the Topklasse since 2015.
It made a memorable debut over for VRA left-armer Aaditt Jain, who went on to remove Tonny Staal in more conventional fashion, while Vikram Singh accounted for Boris Gorlee and Damian Crowley.
The Lions were rescued by half-centuries from their two overseas players, Zac Worden (54) and Tim Pringle (51), and with Hidde Overdijk contributing 35 and a cameo 5-ball 15 not out from Felix Bennett they were able to get the total up to 184 for eight.
Singh finished with four for 43, while Jain had a promising debut with two for 36, including the prized wicket of Worden.
Shirase Rasool and Singh got VRA’s chase off to a decent start, and even after Overdijk had removed Rasool and Bennett had claimed the wickets of Udit Nashier and Luke Scully they reached 95 for three and seemed well-placed to knock off the runs.
But then HCC’s three-man spin attack of Clayton Floyd, Pringle and Crowley regained control, and once Overdijk had returned to remove Singh, caught behind by Staal for 48, wickets began to tumble.
Jack Balbirnie made 37, but with two wickets apiece for the three spinners VRA were eventually dismissed for 162, losing by 22 runs.
Excelsior had to overcome a fine double from Gavin Kaplan, who took five for 43 and made 93, before completing a gripping 13-run victory over HBS at Craeyenhout.
After Tom Heggelman made a patient 46 at the top of Excelsior’s innings Lorenzo Ingram (86) and Stan van Troost (50) shared a fourth-wicket stand of 94 to take their side to 234 for three, but then in a dramatic end to the innings six wickets fell in the space of just nine deliveries for the addition of seven runs as the Schiedammers subsided to 250 all out.
Kaplan was the chief agent of the collapse, also adding a run-out to his tally, while Ryan Klein chipped in with three for 43.
Heggelman struck an early blow when HBS replied, removing the dangerous Tayo Walbrugh before he had scored, but a stand of 97 between Kaplan and Barresi set the home side on course for the win.
Ingram broke the partnership, Barresi holing out to Heggelman at long on when he had made 38, and Excelsior gradually took control through a fine spell of spin bowling from young Luuk Kroesen, enjoying his most extended bowl in the Topklasse and conceding just 21 runs from his ten overs.
The crucial moment came when Kaplan was smartly run out attempting to get back for a second run, and thereafter the asking rate began to climb, some quick thinking by Roel Verhagen behind the stumps producing two more dismissals.
Niels Etman claimed three for 49 as HBS tried to force the pace, and with 21 needed off his final over even a six by last man Stephan Vink wasn’t enough, HBS closing on 237 for nine.
Leaders Voorburg, meanwhile, cruised to an eight-wicket victory over Punjab Rotterdam at Westvliet, an unbeaten 103 from Andre Malan and a half-century by Musa Ahmad enabling them to pass the defending champions’ total of 171 in 26.2 overs.
After winning the toss Punjab collapsed to 53 for six, Karl Nieuwoudt taking three wickets and Bas de Leede two, before Teja Nidamanuru (43) and Sikander Zulfiqar (57 not out) achieved a partial rescue with a seventh-wicket stand of 84.
Nieuwoudt finished with three for 26 and Shariz Ahmad removed the middle order for figures of three for 37, De Leede taking two for 28.
Malan and Musa then put up another century opening stand for Voorburg, leaving Punjab with a tricky visit to the Amsterdamse Bos on Sunday where even a win might not be enough to see them squeeze into the semi-finals.