Voorburg go back top as Sparta crumble

Rod Lyall 19/05/2023

Voorburg returned to the top of the table on Saturday with a comprehensive win over Sparta 1888 at Westvliet, their nine-wicket victory speaheaded by leg-spinners Shariz Ahmad and Philippe Boissevain and completed by a whirlwind innings from opener Nehaan Gigani.

There was little hint of this outcome as Ali Raza and Sam Ferguson steered the total to 60 without loss after Joost-Martijn Snoep had won the toss, but once Shariz and Boissevain were introduced into the attack the Spartan batting fell comprehensively apart, Shariz taking five for 19 to take his season’s tally to 23 at an average cost of 8.78 and Boissevain claiming four for 35.

Once Raza and Ferguson had departed for 42 and 34 respectively only Mudassar Bukhari was able to reach double figures, and he also had Sparta’s only success with the ball, removing Michael Levitt before he developed a groin strain which forced him out of the attack.

With Sparta increasingly looking like a retreating army, Gigani took full advantage, hitting ten fours and three sixes in his unbeaten, 58-ball 81, and Noah Croes helped him see Voorburg home, the winning six coming at the beginning of the 22nd over.

There could scarcely have been a bigger contrast between this overwhelming victory and the match between VRA Amsterdam and VOC Rotterdam in the Amsterdamse Bos, which went down to the very last ball before VOC ran out winners by just two runs.

Eduard Visser led the way for VRA as VOC were reduced to 76 for five, picking up the crucial wickets of Max O’Dowd and Lane Berry as well as that of Francois Fourie, but the Rotterdammers were rescued by a sixth-wicket stand of 104 between skipper Tim de Kok, who made an aggressive 65, and Burhan Niaz (50), and although Visser returned to clean up the tail and finish with five for 34, VRA were left to chase a total of 244.

They were given a real chance by a partnership of 112 for the third wicket between Johan Smal and Teja Nidamanuru, but after Niaz had bowled Smal for 53 De Kok called on Scott Edwards for one of his rare spells with the ball, and he removed first Aryan Dutt and then Jack Balbirnie.

Nidamanuru was still there, but then, with 17 still needed, Jelte Schoonheim trapped him in front for 93, and when he bowled Visser shortly afterwards, VRA’s last pair of Leon Turmaine and Ashir Abid were left to complete the task.

Six were required off the final over, but Schoonheim bowled with exemplary control and they could only manage three, giving VOC the narrowest of victories.

The win made VOC almost certain of a place in the top six, and the same assurance was earned by Punjab Rotterdam, who had a six-wicket victory over Salland at Het Schootsveld.

Salland’s 201 for seven was built on a steady 60 from Finn Raxworthy and a run-a-ball 61 not out by Sahir Naqash, with Saqib Zulfiqar again the most successful of Punjab’s bowlers with three for 49.

But the Overijssel side’s bowlers could make little impression on a strong Punjab top order, despite a fine spell from Fraser Bartholomew, and with Mohsin Riaz making a steady 66, Saqib contributing 40 and Shoaib Minhas and Sikander Zulfiqar finishing things off, Punjab won with almost five overs to spare.

Minhas ended with a run-a-ball 47 not out, and Sikander with 19 not out.

At De Diepput HCC moved into the top six, level on points with VOC and Punjab but with an inferior net run rate, by beating ACC by four wickets.

Daniel Crowley and Henrico Venter did the early damage, and Daniel Doram then removed the middle order to finish with three for 30 from his ten overs, but Anis Raza held things together with 67, Heino Kuhn made 37, and Ammar Zaidi and Mark Wolfe combined to get the total past 200.

ACC were eventually dismissed in the last of their fifty overs for 224, and although Ratha Alphonse (46) and Tonny Staal (33) shared an opening stand of 70, HCC again made heavy weather of the chase, and when danger-man Jonathan Vandiar was rather bizarrely run out by a direct hit from the fine leg boundary attempting to run a second wide the home side were looking slightly precarious on 155 for five.

But HCC bat deep, and first Clayton Floyd and Hidde Overdijk, and after Floyd’s departure Doram, saw them to victory, Overdijk finishing on 38 not out.

The bottom-of-the-table clash between Excelsior ‘20 and HBS Craeyenhout at Thurlede was marked by the return to batting form of Lorenzo Ingram, who made 103 for the home side, and the continuation of Tayo Walbrugh’s remarkable run, his unbeaten 81 seeing HBS to a six-wicket win.

Lucas del Bianco and Wesley Barresi had picked up three wickets apiece, at a cost of 48 and 37 runs respectively, as Excelsior reached 200 for nine, and Barresi then continued his century-making form of Thursday with 52 in a third-wicket stand of 85 which laid the foundations of his side’s victory.

The win lifted HBS off the bottom of the table and into eighth place, leapfrogging both Excelsior and Salland on net run rate and setting up a fascinating battle for position with two Phase One matches remaining.

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