Ali Raza ton gives Sparta a lifeline

Rod Lyall 29/08/2022

A splendid century from wicketkeeper Ali Raza fired Sparta 1888 to their highest total of the season in the showdown match against Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Bermweg on Sunday, paving the way to a 152-run victory and a play-off against the Hoofdklasse champions to determine who will play in the Topklasse next season.

Raza came in after Asief Hoseinbaks had trapped Craig Ambrose in front with the first ball of the match and proceeded to hit 122, from 126 deliveries with seven fours and five sixes, sharing a third-wicket stand of 115 with Mudassar Bukhari.

In what was rumoured to be his final Topklasse match Bukhari, knowing how vital the game was for his club, made an a-typically cautious 42, and his partnership with Raza, and a lightning 17-ball 39 from Khalid Ahmadi in the closing stages, saw Sparta to 253 for seven.

Dosti, who had staged a semi-miraculous recovery in recent weeks to give themselves a chance of staying in the top flight, had no answer to this, former international Ahsan Malik (three for 22 in ten overs), Joost Martijn Snoep (two for 21) and Ahmadi (two for 23, including the vital wicket of Amitoze Singh) combining to dismiss the Amsterdammers for 101.

Only Rahil Ahmed (32) and Kuldeep Diwan (22) reached double figures, and it was appropriately Bukhari who returned to claim the final wicket.

In the Championship Pool the most significant match was at Thurlede, where HCC made sure of second place and a double opportunity of reaching the grand final on 10 September with a 5-wicket victory over Excelsior ’20.

Electing to bat first, Excelsior struggled for runs throughout their innings, Lorenzo Ingram top-scoring with a patient 43 and Tim Etman making 33, with left-arm spinners Tim Pringle (three for 18) and Clayton Floyd (three for 20) again dominant.

HCC’s strong top order then seemed comparatively untroubled in knocking off the runs, Tonny Staal making 47, Zac Worden 43 and skipper Boris Gorlee 67 as the side reached their target with eleven and a half overs to spare.

One bright spot for Excelsior was the bowling of Luuk Kroesen, who again contributed a fine spell, claiming two for 41 from his ten overs.

HCC’s main rivals for the second spot, HBS Craeyenhout, were meanwhile losing to leaders Voorburg at Westvliet, being dismissed for 143 in pursuit of their hosts’ 236 for five.

Andre Malan again led the way for Voorburg with 52, following up his unbeaten century on Saturday, but the key to their total was a run-a-ball 69 not out from Sybrand Engelbrecht, who shared an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 74 with Shariz Ahmad (33 not out).

Shariz then went on to break the back of the HBS reply, removing both openers and finishing with four for 40, while his fellow wrist-spinner Philippe Boissevain took three for 27.

Tobias Visée, back in the HBS side after a six-match absence, made 35, Wesley Barresi 36 and Julian de Mey 29, but they were the only batters to reach double figures as Voorburg comtinued their apparently irresistible march towards the title.

An opening stand of 166 between Shirase Rasool and Luke Scully set VRA Amsterdam on course to the highest total of the day against Punjab Rotterdam in the Amsterdamse Bos, Scully making 79 and Rasool going on to 108.

The Punjab bowlers worked their way through the middle order in the latter part of the innings, but after that great start the home side still finished with 282 for seven, Teja Nidamanuru the most economical of the Rotterdammers’ attack with just 37 coming from his ten overs.

Half-centuries from Rushdie Jappie (53) and Jonathan Vandiar (57) gave Punjab an outside chance of chasing down their massive target, but both were dismissed by Peter Borren, and after they had gone Udit Nashier ran through the later batters, completing his best-ever Topklasse haul with five for 46.

Punjab fought all the way to the end, but they were finally dismissed for 243, a result which enabled VRA to leapfrog over them and finish in fifth position on the table.

Kampong Utrecht, in many ways the most unfortunate team in this year’s competition, completed their programme with a 3-wicket win over VOC Rotterdam at the Hazelaarweg, but they will nevertheless be playing in the Hoofdklasse next season.

Kertan Nana set them on the way by removing both Max O’Dowd and Scott Edwards by the time 48 runs were on the board, and at 149 for nine, Tushar Sharma having claimed three of the wickets, VOC seemed doomed to post a very modest target.

But last man Pieter Seelaar, doubtless hampered by the back injury which has ended his international career, now joined Pierce Fletcher, and the pair proceeded to add 78 for the tenth wicket, 44 of them coming from Seelaar’s bat in just 27 deliveries.

Ratha Alphonse blasted a 60-ball 77, including 11 fours and a six, when Kampong replied, Cole Briggs contributing a run-a-ball 40, but once they had gone the innings threatened to subside until a determined 28 from Alex Roy and an unbroken stand between Nana and skipper Usman Malik saw the Utrechters home.

The closest match of the day was at Het Schootsveld, where Salland Deventer hung on to beat ACC by one wicket with three overs to spare.

ACC’s total of 175 was largely due to captain Anis Raza, who top-scored with 60, while Elam Bharathi claimed three for 24 for Salland.

Mees van Vliet took three for 40 when Salland replied, bringing his tally for the season to 31, but Bharathi’s 48 was the basis of the home side’s response, and in a tense conclusion with the last pair together the win came most unfortunately for ACC from five wides.

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