Salland, ACC, Excelsior claim first wins

Rod Lyall 08/05/2023

Just when it seemed that this season’s Topklasse might break into a dominant five or six teams and a perpetually dominated lower group, two of the latter upset the form book with surprise victories against more favoured opponents.

The biggest reversal perhaps came at the Hazelaarweg, where Salland repeated a trick they performed last year and beat VOC Rotterdam by seven wickets.

Key to their success was an early onslaught by Reinder Lubbers and Fraser Bartholomew, which saw Max O’Dowd, Arnav Jain and Lane Berry all returned to the dugout with just 14 runs on the board, and although Scott Edwards and Tim de Kok (29) shared a half-century partnership and Pieter Seelaar contributed 26, by the time Edwards was the last man out for a fighting 75 he had only managed to negotiate the total to 159.

Bartholomew returned to dismiss him and finish with three for 23, while Shair Naqash took three for 24.

Burhan Niaz grabbed two quick wickets when Salland replied, but Venkat Ganesan’s 53 laid the foundations for a comfortable victory, completed by an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 82 between Finn Raxworthy (46 not out) and Naqash (40 not out).

Another early leader to lose their unbeaten record was Sparta 1888, who succumbed to a greatly-improved ACC by six wickets at Het Loopveld.

Half-centuries by Sam Ferguson and Joost Kroesen and a mercurial 48 not out from 30 deliveries by Khalid Ahmadi enabled Sparta to reach a solid 222 for eight, with Aryan Kumar and Joseph Reddy taking three for 49 and three for 32 respectively for the home side.

But Shreyas Potdar’s 89 laid the foundation of ACC’s victory, supported by Thomas Hobson’s 42 in a second-wicket stand of 91; Joost-Martijn Snoep tried eight bowlers in an attempt to remove a much more resilient batting line-up, but the winning runs came with four and a half overs to spare.

If the outcome of the match between Excelsior ‘20 and HCC at Thurlede could not be termed a shock on this scale, the manner of it certainly was: after making their way to 55 for one the HCC batting disintegrated completely, and the last nine wickets fell for the addition of just eight runs as the left-arm combination of pace man Niels Etman and spinner Lorenzo Ingram created total mayhem.

Both finished with their best-ever Topklasse figures, Ingram taking five for 11 and Etman four for 11, and HCC were all out for just 63.

Excelsior were far from comfortable in chasing down this small target, Daniel Doram picking up three for 19 for the defending champions, but Ingram and Stan van Troost ultimately saw them to a six-wicket victory.

At Het Zomercomplex Punjab Rotterdam consolidated their claim to a top-six place with a victory, also by six wickets, over rivals VRA Amsterdam.

Punjab’s persistent attack was able to restrict the Amsterdammers to 157, the top-scorers Shirase Rasool and Tyler van Luin with 38 apiece and Leon Turmaine managing 27 as he batted with the tail, while Sulaiman Tariq took three for 37 for the home side and Saqib Zulfiqar and Mubashar Hussain each took two.

Ashir Abid claimed three quick wickets at the start of the Punjab reply, finishing with three for 24 from his ten overs, but Asad Zulfiqar anchored the innings with 46, and once he had gone Shoaib Minhas took over, his unbeaten 80 seeing his side to victory with ten overs remaining.

Leaders Voorburg maintained their unbeaten record, now the only one in the competition, by beating HBS at Craeyenhout, but their margin of 40 runs was a lot smaller than might have been anticipated.

Opener Michael Levitt posted a maiden Topklasse century, making 104 from 103 deliveries and putting on 139 for the second wicket with Noah Croes (80), and with Musa Ahmad contributing 53 Voorburg reached 324 for eight, although Swapnil Pote pulled them back from an even higher total by taking five for 46 for HBS.

It seemed likely to be much too big a challenge for Wesley Barresi’s side, but an aggressive 40-ball 68 in the initial powerplay from Reece Mason and a fighting 109 from Taya Walbrugh, who had dropped down to bat at six, kept them in the hunt, and at 260 for seven and Walbrugh well set another upset was on the cards.

But then Walbrugh was run out, Mees van Vliet took the final wicket and finish with three for 51, and HBS were all out for 284.

After the disappointments of Saturday, VOC and Sparta used their Sunday replay games to return to winning ways.

Saqib Zulfiqar’s 94 helped Punjab to reach 244 after Jelte Schoonheim (three for 34) had caused them early problems; Ramdas Upadhyaya also took four for 58 for the Bloodhounds, while Muhammad Shafiq’s 33 got his side from 170 for seven to their much more challenging final total.

At 113 for seven VOC appeared to be heading for their second defeat of the weekend, but Lane Berry was now joined by Scott Edwards, who had earlier retired hurt with a hand injury, and in a remarkable turnaround they proceeded to add the 132 needed for victory.

Berry was especially dominant, his 150 not out coming from 133 deliveries with 13 fours and eight sixes, and with Edwards’s unbeaten 37 giving him the necessary support, VOC won with nearly ten overs to spare, despite Tariq’s four for 45 for the home side.

Sparta completed a much less dramatic victory over Excelsior at the Bermweg, chasing down the Schiedammers’ 221 for nine, in which Roel Verhagen made 70 and Michael Hart 44; Ahmadi and Will Clark were Sparta’s most successful bowlers with three for 35 and three for 57 respectively.

Sparta’s top order then picked off the runs in a solid collective effort, Ferguson making 37, Garnett Tarr 45, Mudassar Bukhari 47, Clark 31 and Kroesen 25 not out, and although Ingram claimed three wickets to bring his tally for the weekend to eight for 27, the home side won by three wickets.

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