Voorburg the only winners on a wet opening day

Rod Lyall 23/04/2023

What started out as the Match of the Day turned out to be the match of the day, as the repeat of last year’s Grand Final between Voorburg and HCC at Westvliet was the only game to get a result, the other four rained off at various points during a miserable opening afternoon.

That Voorburg were able to claim the points was in part a tribute to the efforts of the ground staff and the quality of the covers, not to mention the persistence of the umpires and captains, but the Voorburgers had laid the foundations of their victory during the 27 overs which could be bowled before the rain arrived.

The bowlers never let up from the moment Ratha Alphonse edged Viv Kingma to Michael Levitt at second slip, and only Jonathan Vandiar looked really comfortable against the pace of Kingma and Ryan Klein, the seam of Karl Nieuwoudt and Sajjid Kamal, and the spin of Shariz Ahmad and Philippe Boissevain.

Vandiar’s uncharacteristically patient 47, though punctuated by moments of blazing aggression, enabled his side to 107 for six, but Voorburg were solidly on top, reflected in the fact that when, after an interruption of several hours, the game could resume, the home side were given a target of 98 from 22 overs.

That never seemed like to be a problem, and although HCC managed to pick up two wickets, Noah Croes and Sybrand Engelbrecht saw their side home with four and a half overs to spare.

Generally bowlers were on top on a damp and overcast day, but there was an exception at Het Zomercomplex where VOC Rotterdam, put in to bat by Punjab captain Sulaiman Tariq, raced to 177 for one in just 28.4 overs.

Max O’Dowd hammered an 84-ball 91 not out which included ten fours and four sixes, sharing first a stand of 81 with Arnav Jain and then adding another 94 from 76 deliveries with VOC’s new overseas player Lane Berry, who marked his Topklasse debut with an unbeaten, 45-ball 59.

The only captain who took the risk of batting first on winning the toss was Salland’s Victor Lubbers, who saw his side reduced to 89 for seven by VRA Amsterdam in Amstelveen by the time they were rescued by the weather.

Ashir Abid started the rot by removing Piyaranga Ottachchige and Finn Raxworthy with consecutive balls in the first over, and although German international captain Venkat Ganesan and Lubbers himself put up some resistance, adding 69 for the third wicket, new VRA skipper Leon Turmaine’s three for 22 winkled out the middle order, Aryan Dutt finally dismissing Ganesan for a dogged 46.

On the other side of Amstelveen HBS Craeyenhout also struggled with the bat, reaching 148 for six against ACC at Het Loopveld before the rain intervened.

Tayo Walbrugh was trapped in front by Joseph Reddy in the second over, and despite a solid 60 from Swapnil Pote on his Topklasse debut with wickets falling regularly at the other end the HBS innings never really got going.

Off-spinner Mahesh Hans claimed three for 28 on his first outing with his new club, and with 44 overs bowled before the rain arrived ACC were clearly in the box seat when the game was called off.

The match at the Bermweg was a little more evenly poised, with home side Sparta 1888 on 143 for five against Excelsior ’20 Schiedam  in the 35th over after a brief resumption between intervals of rain.

Niels Etman and Michael Hart had reduced them to 13 for three, but Mudassar Bukhari and Will Clark turned things round with a fourth-wicket partnership of 97, and there was time for Clark to reach a maiden Topklasse half-century and for Bukhari to pass fifty for the 37th time before it was decided to call it a day.

So eight of the clubs will need to try again on 7 May, the first of the three dates allocated for replaying rained-off matches in the first phase of the competition.

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