Centuries for Rasool and Berry as the sun shines

Rod Lyall 01/05/2023

The sun shone brilliantly on Saturday, the first day of a Topklasse double weekend, and after the miserable opening to the season the previous week some batters at least were able to take advantage of the conditions and get themselves among the runs.

Anyone hoping for tense, exciting cricket, however, would have been bitterly disappointed, for the disparities within the competition which had been hinted at before the rain ruined the first round were now fully in evidence.

The nearest thing to a competitive game was at Thurlede, where VRA Amsterdam beat Excelsior ’20 by a mere 86 runs.

The Amsterdammers got off to a great start after Tim Etman had put them in, Shirase Rasool and Vikram Singh putting on 87 for the first wicket and Johan Smal then helping Rasool to take the total to 196 for one.

Singh’s contribution was 35 and Smal’s 56, but when Niels Etman returned to remove Smal and Rasool, immediately after reaching his third Topklasse century, fell to Tom Heggelman, it was left to Teja Nidamanuru and Tyler van Luin to build on this platform.

They added exactly 50, but then there came a flurry of wickets as the middle and lower order hit out in the closing overs, six falling for the addition of only 15 runs as VRA closed on 265 for nine.

There were three wickets apiece for Heggelman and Lorenzo Ingram, but the pick of the bowlers was Michael Hart, whose figures of one for 54 did less than justice to the quality of his effort.

Van Luin, Aryan Dutt and Eduard Visser then combined to reduce Excelsior to 71 for five, and despite some resistance from Niels Etman (37) and from Hart, last man out for 69, the home side were dismissed for 179, Visser claiming four for 41 and Van Luin three for 18, while Dutt was again a model of control, conceding just 22 from his ten overs.

The highest total of the day came at Craeyenhout, where Sparta 1888 ran up 330 for nine against a somewhat threadbare HBS attack.

Ali Raza performed one of his smash-and-grab raids, hitting a 16-ball 34 to get his side into top gear, but the real basis of their score was a second-wicket stand of 130 between Sam Ferguson (57) and Garnett Tarr (95).

Will Clark, the other member of Sparta’s trio of overseas players, contributed 58 to follow up his half-century the previous week, while Kyle Klein was the most successful of the HBS bowlers with three for 68.

Ahsan Malik then claimed two early wickets as HBS replied, and although Tayo Walbrugh made 46 and there were thirties from Kyle Klein and Nic Adendorff the Crows could only manage 186, Joost Kroesen removing both of the latter and running through the tail to finish with five for 32, his best-ever Topklasse figures.

VOC Rotterdam’s overseas player Lane Berry confirmed the promise he had shown in the rained-off game at Punjab with a fine 124 against HCC at the Hazelaarweg, anchoring his side’s total of 254 all out with stands of 95 with Scott Edwards (40) and Tim de Kok (43) and setting up a comfortable 149-run victory over the defending champions.

Jan-Wieger Overdijk eventually had him caught, and removed De Kok, Pieter Seelaar and Burhan Niaz into the bargain to finish with four for 47, and there was a wicket for Daniel Doram, drafted into the HCC squad as a late replacement for the injured Tim Pringle.

The Lions had no real answer against VOC’s attack, Jelte Schoonheim picking up three wickets for 20 early on and Asief Hoseinbaks three for 14 later, and the innings ended on a disappointing 105.

Voorburg cruised to an easy victory over Salland at Het Schootsveld, Shariz Ahmad securing his best Topklasse figures with six for 13 from ten overs and Sajjad Kamal picking up the rest with four for 24 as the Deventer side collapsed from 90 without loss to 135 all out in the space of barely twenty overs.

Piyaranga Ottachchige (51) and Venkat Ganesan (39) had given them a record-breaking start, but once they had gone the rest had no answer to Shariz and Kamal, and although Elam Bharathi battled valiantly, taking all four Voorburg wickets that fell, 38 from stand-in captain Musa Ahmad and an unbeaten 47 from little brother Shariz ensured that the visitors completed their win with almost twenty overs to spare.

It was a similar story at Het Zomercomplex, where Punjab Rotterdam’s attack ran through ACC, bowling them out for 124.

Thomas Hobson’s 55 was the only significant contribution to the ACC total, with Saqib Zulfiqar taking three for 16 for Punjab and Sulaiman Tariq, Aliyaan Mahmood and Mohammad Shafiq collecting two wickets apiece.

Pienaar Buys gave the Amsterdammers some hope with two quick wickets, but Sikander Zulfiqar and Shoaib Minhas steadied the ship for Punjab, their unbroken stand of 62 seeing them to a seven-wicket victory.

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