Punjab’s bowlers clinch the championship

Rod Lyall 06/09/21

Punjab Rotterdam claimed their first national championship in their 30-year history at the Zomercomplex on Sunday, and it was entirely appropriate that it should be their bowlers, who have worked so tirelessly all season, who had the last word.

Bowled out for 157 after being put in to bat by Voorburg captain Bas de Leede, Punjab’s attack produced another disciplined, determined performance to dismiss their opponents for 102 and set the seal on a campaign in which they had previously bowled sides out for under 150 on no fewer than nine occasions.

Even so, the wind appeared to be in Voorburg’s sails after their own attack, chock-full of internationals, had restricted the powerful Punjab batting line-up to such a meagre total.

The Rotterdammers have justly developed a reputation for brutal hitting on their bijou Zomercomplex ground: their batters had smacked a total of 67 sixes there in the season so far at better than one every two overs but on Sunday they managed only two and, more importantly, openers Steph Myburgh and Rehmat Zulfiqar, both fell trying to add to that total.

Myburgh had contributed a typically aggressive 20-ball 24, but it was the more conventional techniques of Asad Zulfiqar (30) and his brother Saqib (22) which enabled Punjab to reach 93 for two at the 25-over mark.

With the Zulfiqars starting to play their shots a total in excess of 200 seemed on the cards, but then Philippe Boissevain, who had had trouble finding a length, trapped Saqib in front, and when De Leede removed Asad the same way in the following over Punjab, without Teja Nidamanuru, needed some serious reconstruction work from the middle order.

But neither Sikander Zulfiqar, batting hero of Punjab’s semi-final victory over the same opponents the previous Sunday, nor Irfan ul Haq stayed long as Logan van Beek and De Leede pressed home Voorburg’s advantage, and the last six wickets fell for just 32 runs.

The wickets were deservedly shared: Kingma’s two for 14 from eight overs and Van Beek’s two for 26 from ten were just reward for some genuinely hostile bowling, while Aryan Dutt with one for 29 maintained the pressure well.

Punjab needed to make early inroads into Voorburg’s line-up, and Sohail Bhatti duly obliged by getting Tom de Grooth caught behind by Asad Zulfiqar in the second over of their reply.

It was once again skipper Suleiman Tariq, however, who set the tone, bowling his ten overs unchanged and claiming the crucial wickets of De Leede, brilliantly caught by Saqib Zulfiqar at slip, and Sybrand Engelbrecht, who had made 59 and 103 not out in his last two innings and who now fell to an equally fine catch by Mohsin Bajwa in the gully.

Bowling three consecutive maidens in the powerplay, Tariq denied the Voorburg innings any real momentum, and although Dutt and Van Beek put on 33 for the fifth wicket, Sikander Zulfiqar then took a hand with the ball, claiming four for 10 in three overs to run through the lower middle order and end any chance of a Voorburg recovery.

Dutt remained to the end, hitting Saqib for a defiant six, but he was eventually caught behind off the leg-spinner, and the innings finished 55 runs short.

Low-scoring matches are often the most absorbing, and this one, dominated by two contrasting but equally outstanding attacks, was no exception. It was, moreover, a complete vindication of the KNCB’s decision to bring back play-offs as a climax to the Topklasse season.

Engelbrecht century takes Voorburg into grand final

Rod Lyall 05/09/21

A near-chanceless century from Sybrand Engelbrecht was the difference between the sides at Westvliet on Saturday as Voorburg chased down VRA Amsterdam’s 210 for seven to win by five wickets with two overs to spare.

In a match of fluctuating fortunes altogether worthy of a preliminary final VRA, put in to bat, began at a gallop, reaching 111 for one after twenty overs, thanks to Luke Scully’s 27-ball 39 and a valuable, if somewhat less frenetic stand between Vikram Singh (31) and Ben Cooper (22).

When spinners Philippe Boissevain and Aryan Dutt took over, however, the character of the innings changed, and with three wickets falling for one run in the space of nine deliveries, two of them to Boissevain and the other to Dutt, the Amsterdammers were rocked back on their heels.

On a pitch where scoring was never easy, especially with pace taken off the ball, it took a diligent partnership between Eric Szwarczynski and Jack Balbirnie, largely comprising singles with an occasional two and punctuated by a regrettable flow of wide, to keep VRA in the game; at one stage 14 overs passed between two Szwarczynski boundaries as the spinners, backed up by Stef Mulder’s mostly accurate seamers and short bursts by Viv Kingma and Logan van Beek, steadily turned the screw.

The stand was worth 51 when Balbirnie became Boissevain’s third victim, but Szwarczynski held firm, and in company with keeper Mitch Lees he was able to achieve a slight improvement in the scoring rate, 31 coming from the last five overs before, having reached 41, he swept Kingma’s final delivery of the innings onto his leg stump.

Boissevain’s three for 25, supported by Dutt’s one for 33, had kept VRA’s total within bounds, though the target would have been a lot more manageable without a total of 40 extras, 30 of them from wides, which also meant that Voorburg had bowled no fewer than four additional overs.

The home side suffered two early setbacks, Quirijn Gunning trapping Mohit Hingorani leg-before and Bas de Leede run out by some smart work from Udit Nashier and Lees after a mid-pitch mix-up, and when Tom de Grooth, on 29, fell to Singh and Dutt went almost immediately to an outstanding one-handed, diving catch by Borren off Nashier, they were on 73 for four and in real trouble.

Van Beek now joined Engelbrecht, and they steadily rebuilt the innings, more than doubling the score over a 20-over stand in which Van Beek was the more enterprising, declaring his intentions by hitting Nashier for the first six of the match.

That apart, Nashier kept things tight, but the required rate never nudged much above six an over; unlike their opponents VRA kept the extras to a minimum, but they were never able to eliminate the boundaries, and gradually the deficit became smaller.

Van Beek hit another six off Turmaine, but when he tried to do it again later in the same over he succeeded only in holing out to Cooper at long on and as he departed for 38 60 were still needed with ten overs remaining.

Engelbrecht was still there, however, now on 70, and it was clear that it was his wicket which was crucial to the outcome.

His shot selection became more adventurous as the target approached, with Karl Nieuwoudt giving him excellent support, and with four overs left he brought up his own century and the side’s 200.

It was, in fact, Nieuwoudt who hit the winning boundary, his 30 not out coming from just 23 deliveries, while Engelbrecht’s unbeaten 103 came from 135 balls with ten fours.

VRA had stuck to the task well, but Engelbrecht, Van Beek and Nieuwoudt made batting on a tricky pitch look deceptively easy, and they will go into Sunday’s grand final against Punjab with renewed confidence.

VRA make the play-offs as HCC walk off against VOC

Rod Lyall 16/08/21

Among the many scenarios leading into Sunday’s final round of Topklasse league matches, no-one could have predicted the regrettable scenes at De Diepput, where HCC walked off amidst allegations of a racial slur, apparently forfeiting the match to VOC Rotterdam and thus surrendering their chance of reaching the top four.

16 and a half overs of the VOC innings had been bowled when the match came to a premature end, but the incident may have had its origins in the fifth over, when a lifting delivery from Hidde Overdijk caught the shoulder of Dirk van Baren’s bat and flew into the gully.

The home side were convinced they had their man but Van Baren stood his ground, and after a consultation between the umpires he was given not out.

There was some compensation for Overdijk a few minutes later when Max O’Dowd, trying to work him to leg, got a leading edge and speared an easy return catch.

Van Baren continued in company with Scott Edwards, but when he edged a boundary off Reinier Bijloos to move to 22 and to take the VOC total to 45 for one, words were exchanged between keeper Yash Patel and Van Baren which ignited the blaze, causing the umpires to intervene in an attempt to cool tempers.

Patel, however, remained apparently furious, and after a conversation with two of his teammates he took off his gloves and left the field, followed by the rest of the players and the officials.

After almost 25 minutes the umpires returned to remove the stumps, and word came through that HCC, in support of Patel’s stand over what they said was a racist comment, had refused to continue.

Under the Topklasse playing conditions it would appear that VOC should be awarded the points, while HCC could also be liable for a two-point penalty; the KNCB Board, however, will need to see the umpires’ report before taking any action.

This result would in any case see HCC drop out of the top four, but the final standings were also dependent on events elsewhere, and especially at Thurlede, where VRA Amsterdam, level on points with VOC before the final round, were playing Excelsior ‘20.

Fielding a makeshift side which saw former national captain Luuk van Troost, who had played his last Topklasse match in 2015, and Adam Woutersen come out of retirement, Excelsior were nevertheless in charge for the early exchanges, reducing VRA to 72 for six before Jack Balbirnie (45) and Leon Turmaine (41 not out) turned things around with a seventh-wicket stand which more than doubled the total.

Umar Baker eventually dismissed Balbirnie to finish with three for 34, but VRA had given themselves a chance with a total of 176 for seven, much better than had appeared likely early on.

Skipper Tom Heggelman, opening the innings for Excelsior, saw Tim Etman trapped in front by Quirijn Gunning off the first ball of the reply, but he batted doggedly on as wickets fell around him.

The total was only 71 when he was the seventh to go, having made 30, and it was left to Luuk van Troost, who had earlier claimed two for 37 in VRA’s innings, to see the score past the hundred, making 24 in a total of 106 before he was the last man out.

His wicket fell to VRA skipper Peter Borren, playing his 300th top flight match for VRA, who has led his side back from an apparently hopeless position to third place in the table, nudging just ahead of VOC on net run rate and securing a home semi-final next week.

Already sure of topping the table, Punjab Rotterdam completed their league programme with a surprisingly hard-fought victory over ACC at Het Loopveld.

That Punjab posted the highest total of the day with 214 for five was due in part to Steph Myburgh’s 42, but even more to an unbroken sixth-wicket stand which featured contrasting innings from Saqib Zulfiqar and Yasir Usman.

Coming in at 74 for three, Zulfiqar anchored the rest of the innings with an 82-ball 53 not out, while Usman needed only 42 deliveries for his unbeaten 48, hitting two fours and three sixes and just missing out on what would have been a notable half-century.

ACC had their customary difficulties with the scoring rate when they replied against the steady Punjab attack, but Shreyas Potdar’s 37 and Ammar Zaidi’s 26 gave them a platform from which Anis Raza (44) and Aryan Kumar (25) were able to give their side an outside chance of victory.

Both were removed, however, by Suleiman Tariq, and ACC were finally dismissed for 184, 30 runs short, with ten deliveries remaining.

Punjab’s semi-final opponents will be Voorburg, who remained in second place despite losing to HBS Craeyenhout by 28 runs.

Voorburg appeared to be in complete control when they dismissed their opponents for 130, Bas de Leede taking three for 21, but they then collapsed in their turn, losing their last eight wickets for 35 runs as they slumped to 102 all out.

Stephan Vink took three for 12 in nine overs for HBS, with two wickets apiece for Ryan Klein, Julian de Mey and Sander Geenevasen.

At Sportpark Drieburg, Dosti Amsterdam ended their long losing run with a 31-run victory over ten-man Sparta 1888.

Waheed Masood top-cored in a Dosti total of 164, Martijn Snoep taking four for 51 for Sparta, but Asief Hoseinbaks’ four for 29, including the vital wicket of Garnett Tarr, turned the match decisively the home side’s way.

VRA give themselves a play-off chance

Rod Lyall 09/08/21

Another round was disrupted by rain on Sunday, but the four matches which produced a result confirmed Punjab Rotterdam’s position at the top of the table, saw Voorburg go clear in second place, and gave VRA Amsterdam a very good chance of reaching the play-offs.

The one game which fell victim to the extreme weather ended Excelsior ‘20’s hopes of making the top four, as a torrential downpour brought an end to proceedings in their game against VOC Rotterdam at an already sodden Hazelaarweg.

Batting first in a match reduced to 45 overs, Excelsior had reached 72 for two just past the halfway point of their innings when the heavens opened, and no further play was possible.

VOC’s one point from the No result kept them in fourth place, ahead of VRA on net run rate, but Excelsior’s – their fifth such outcome in a record-breaking wet season – meant that even a win next week could see them finish no higher than sixth.

VRA moved level on points with VOC by virtue of a six-wicket victory over HBS Craeyenhout in Amstelveen, which enabled them to leapfrog their opponents and into fifth place on the table.

That HBS were able to reach 199 before they were dismissed off the final delivery of their 50 overs owed much to Wesley Barresi’s fighting 81, but he was finally out off the first ball of that last over, one of three victims of Jack Balbirnie, who finished with three for 29.

Balbirnie and his fellow-spinners, Leon Turmaine and Udit Nashier, managed to keep the brakes on the HBS batting line-up, and VRA were comparatively untroubled in reaching their target with 4.1 overs to spare, Vikram Singh making 60 and Ben Cooper, back from injury, contributing an unbeaten 62.

The top-of-the-table clash between Punjab and HCC at the Zomercomplex was the most affected by rain of all the completed matches, but ended in a fairly comprehensive win for the home side, now confirmed as what the Australians call ‘minor premiers’.

Seepage under the covers overnight led to a long-delayed start and an initial reduction to 35 overs a side, and after Suleiman Tariq had put HCC in to bat he and Teja Nidamanuru did their usual job of containing the opposition’s scoring so effectively that when rain drove the players from the field HCC had reached just 91 for one in 22 overs.

By the time they returned the Hagenaars had only five more overs to bat, and they lost five more wickets – four of them to Sikander Zulfiqar, who finished with four for 25 from four eventful overs – in posting another 40 runs.

The DLS calculation extended the target to 154, and Steph Myburgh and Asad Zulfiqar set their side on course with a second-wicket stand which took them to 68 for one in ten overs before a further interruption adjusted the demand to 118 from 20 overs.

Myburgh’s unbeaten 54 ensured that this was well within their capabilities, and the winning boundary came from the first ball of the final over.

The quickest and easiest win of the day came at Westvliet, where Voorburg dismissed Dosti Amsterdam for just 45 in 25.1 overs and needed only 9.4 overs to complete a nine-wicket victory.

Only Vinoo Tewarie, with 13, reached double figures in another abject display by Dosti’s batters, with Aryan Dutt’s spin yielding him four for 6 from eight overs, four of them maidens; Bas de Leede took three for 9 and Viv Kingma two for 16.

Alyan Razzaqi contributed the lion’s share of Voorburg’s runs, making 28 not out and ending the match with a six and a four.

The least significant match of the round also proved to be the most absorbing, with ACC pulling off an 18-run DLS victory over Sparta 1888 at Sportpark Bermweg.

The Amsterdammers’ total of 155 was built around Ammar Zaidi’s painstaking 56, but also owed much to a 50-run stand for the seventh wicket between Zaidi and Mies van Vliet, who made a career-best 23.

Sparta were already in some trouble when rain intervened at 36 for two, one of those dismissed being Garnett Tarr, and immediately after the resumption, the target now being 149 in 45 overs, a flurry of four wickets in as many overs for the addition of only three runs left the home side facing another ignominious collapse.

They were rescued by Ali Raza and skipper Martijn Snoep, who more than doubled the score before Ali, on 45, danced down the wicket to Anis Raza and was stumped.

This left Snoep to manage the tail, but once he had departed for 22 the odds were stacked against Sparta, and they were all out for 130.

Sahil Kothari, the agent of Sparta’s mid-order collapse, took four for 17 in nine overs.

O’Dowd and Rutgers take VOC back into the four

Rod Lyall 02/08/21

A fine stand of 186 between Max O’Dowd and Corey Rutgers enabled VOC Rotterdam to recover from a perilous 14 for three and reach 271 for four against HBS at Craeyenhout on Sunday, laying the foundation for a 62-run victory and taking them back into fourth spot in the densely-packed table.

The total was all the more remarkable because the match had been cut to 37 overs a side after overnight rain, which means that it was equivalent to more than 350 over a full 50 overs.

HBS had a dream start after winning the toss, with Dirk van Baren, Tim de Kok and Scott Edwards all dismissed without scoring in the space of the first 23 deliveries, two falling to Ryan Klein in the first over and the third to Ferdi Vink, but this brought O’Dowd and Rutgers together for the partnership which turned the game around.

O’Dowd passed fifty for the eighth time in 14 innings and went on to post his third century of the season, taking his tally to 810; he faced 99 deliveries and hit nine sixes to go with his seven fours.

Rutgers continued in company with Pieter Seelaar, returning after missing six games with a back injury, after O’Dowd departed for 118, and this pair added 71 in five and a half overs, Rutgers finishing on 114 not out, also made from 99 deliveries.

This left HBS with a massive task, and although they began brightly enough, their chances receded once Tobias Visée fell to Pierce Fletcher and, even more decisively, Dirk van Baren removed leading run-scorer Tayo Walbrugh.

The hosts never recovered, and although Navjit Singh made 36 before he became the first of three victims for Siebe van Wingerden, and last man Sander Geenevasen weighed in with a defiant 37 not out in the dying overs, their closed on 209 for nine.

If VOC’s total was imposing it was surpassed by Punjab Rotterdam’s 325 for six in 39 overs against Sparta 1888 at the Zomercomplex.

There were four half-centuries in the Punjab innings, Stephan Myburgh making a 51-ball 84 and sharing a second-wicket stand of 134 with Asad Zulfiqar (53), and Saqib Zulfiqar (69 not out from 52 deliveries) adding 115 for the fifth wicket with Sikander Zulfiqar (57 from 34).

Between them the Punjab batting line-up smacked 28 fours and 17 sixes off Sparta’s long-suffering attack, which was missing both Mudassar Bukhari and Max Hoornweg; Manminder Singh was the most effective with three for 65 from his eight overs.

Sparta reached 57 for two in reply, but then spinners Saqib Zulfiqar and Irfan ul Haq took over, and the last eight wickets fell for just 21 runs, Saqib taking three for 24 and Ul Haq five for 11 in eight overs as the side was all out for 78, Garnett Tarr top-scoring with 38.

Excelsior ‘20 became the first side in seven games to take more than 50 off the HCC attack, but their total of 180 was insufficient to stop HCC’s batters from pulling off a six-wicket victory as Damian Crowley (93 not out) and Tonny Staal (53) added 119 for the fourth wicket and took their side to within sight of their target.

Earlier, Lorenzo Ingram played a largely lone hand in Excelsior’s innings with 69, but apart from Stan van Troost (28) he received little support; HCC missed Hidde Overdijk from the attack, but Musa Nadeem Ahmad claimed three for 21 and Clayton Floyd extended his season’s tally to 37 with two for 35.

At Het Loopveld Voorburg stayed on terms with HCC with a comfortable win over ACC, whose batting woes continued as they struggled to 91 for seven in 45 overs in a rain-punctuated innings.

Logan van Beek celebrated his return to the Voorburg colours with four for 17, while Viv Kingma also bowled for the first time in weeks, collecting a wicket.

Bas de Leede then steered his side to an eight-wicket victory with an unbeaten 40.

VRA Amsterdam kept their outside chances of a play-off place alive with a five-wicket win over Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Drieburg.

Here, too, rain interrupted Dosti’s innings, which was held together by a career-best 60 from opener Mahesh Hans as they reached 127 for seven in 39 overs, Quirijn Guinning leading the VRA attack with three for 24.

Zamaan Khan’s 31-ball 44 set VRA on the path to victory, but they lost five wickets along the way before completing the win with 17 overs to spare.

Punjab lose again as HCC demolish Sparta

Rod Lyall 12/07/21

The 2021 Topklasse season continues to do its impersonation of a cycling road race, with leaders Punjab Rotterdam dropping back on Sunday as the peloton gathers for the final print.

It was Voorburg who were the agents of Punjab’s defeat, bowling them out for 84 and then reaching their target in 27.4 overs for the loss of two wickets.

New ball bowlers Karl Nieuwoudt and Bas de Leede put the powerful Punjab top order under pressure from the outset, Nieuwoudt claiming the vital wicket of Steph Myburgh, but it was Sajjad Kamal and Stef Mulder who did the real damage in a ten-over passage which saw the leaders slump to 59 for six.

Suleiman Tariq again offered some resistance, but once he was run out by Aryan Dutt the end came quickly, Mulder finishing with four for 19 and Kamal with three for 16.

Punjab made Voorburg work hard for their victory, but Mohit Hingorani batted through for 35 not out, sharing useful partnerships with De Leede (26) and then Sybrand Engelbrecht (16 not out) to see his side home.

HCC’s attack again ruled supreme at Sportpark Bermweg, shooting Sparta 1888 out for just 42 and setting up a rapid seven-wicket victory.

After Clayton Floyd had bowled his usual token opening over, Hidde Overdijk and Reinier Bijloos bowled for 20 overs unchanged, with Overdijk taking three for 12 and Bijloos four for 17 as Sparta, without captain Mudassar Bukhari, collapsed to 32 for seven.

Floyd then returned to claim the final three wickets in the space of ten deliveries to finish with three for 3 and take his season’s tally to 35 at an extraordinary average of 6.49.

HCC needed only 38 deliveries to reach their target, although their rapid-fire approach saw Musa Nadeem, Boris Gorlee and Damian Crowley all back in the metaphorical pavilion before they did so.

The only significant totals of the day were posted at Thurlede, where HBS Craeyenhout maintained their four place with a victory over Excelsior ‘20 by six wickets.

If the bowlers were less completely in command there than elsewhere, stroke-play was never a straightforward matter either, and two attractive top orders found themselves compelled to graft against disciplined, accurate attacks.

Having elected to bat first Excelsior had to battle their way to 171 for six, Roel Verhagen, Lorenzo Ingram, Tristan Stubbs – playing his last game for the club this season – and Joost Kroesen all getting a start but unable to up the tempo appreciably.

It was, indeed, Niels Etman whose 48-ball, unbeaten 36 which enabled them to set as big a target as they did, with Ryan Klein, Sander Geenevasen, Wesley Barresi and Julian de Mey all putting in solid performances with the ball.

When HBS replied Klaas Roelfsema and Ingram quickly had them on the back foot at 18 for three with Tobias Visée, De Mey and the dangerous Tayo Walbrugh all gone, but Najvit Singh and Barresi settled into a determined fourth-wicket partnership of 109 before Barresi fell to Joost Kroesen for a patient 48.

45 were still needed at this point, but Navjit with an unbeaten 73 and Klein with 20 worked their way steadily to the win, reaching their target with 17 deliveries to spare.

Vinoo Tewarie (31) and Arief Hoseinbaks (35) managed to get Dosti Amsterdam up to a total of 143 against VOC Rotterdam at the Hazelaarweg, Pierce Fletcher taking four for 20, but this was nowhere near enough against opponent for whom openers Max O’Dowd and Dirk van Baren both made half-centuries.

Both fell immediately after reaching that landmark, O’Dowd for a punishing 39-ball 52 which included four fours and as many sixes, Van Baren for a more sedate 54 from 53 deliveries, and it was left to Scott Edwards to steer his side home with 29 not out.

There was a dramatic start in the Amterdamse Bos, where VRA Amsterdam left-armer Ashir Abid reduced ACC to 15 for three in the space of the first 19 deliveries.

Krishna Hosur (25), Ammar Zaidi (38) and Chris Knoll (26) were able to engineer a partial recovery, but once they had been dismissed the innings folded, and ACC were all out for 121.

After the early loss of Vikram Singh Zamaan Khan and Luke Scully shared the best partnership of the match, putting on 81 for the second wicket, and although Khan was eventually bowled by Zaidi for 33 Scully continued in tandem with Shirase Rasool to finish with an unbeaten 62 as VRA completed an eight-wicket victory.

A good day for Amsterdam as VRA, ACC spring surprises

Rod Lyall 19/07/21

Amsterdam’s Topklasse clubs have had a mostly disappointing season so far, but two of them produced outstanding results on Sunday, ACC beating VOC Rotterdam and VRA inflicting only their second defeat of the campaign on leaders Punjab.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, VRA were given a great start by opener Vikram Singh, who took on Punjab’s normally parsimonious seam attack to the tune of a 38-ball 57 which included nine fours and two sixes.

The rest of the batting was unable to maintain such momentum, and at 127 for five it seemed that the Amsterdam side might be on the road to another disappointing total.

But then Jack Balbirnie, who had been involved in a useful stand with Peter Borren (28), was joined by Leon Turmaine, and this pair added 78 for the sixth wicket before Balbirnie, on 66, was caught on the midwicket boundary by Yasir Usman off the bowling of Suleiman Tariq.

Turmaine went on to reach 51 before he was run out in the final over, trying to retain the strike, and the innings closed on 232, the highest total of the day.

VRA’s pace men, Quirijn Gunning and Ashir Abid, made the most of the opportunity to defend a substantial score, and with help from spinner Luke Hartsink and seamer Singh, steadily reduced Punjab’s powerful batting line-up to an unwonted 94 for seven.

At this point Imran ul Haq joined skipper Tariq, and together they set about reducing the deficit, adding 73 and bringing the score to within 66 of their target before Hartsink returned to bowl Tariq for 37, his highest Topklasse score. Hartsink finished with three for 45.

Ul Haq continued in company with Sohail Bhatti, adding another 28 runs and bringing his own tally to 39, but once he fell to Leon Turmaine the way was clear for Peter Borren to finish it off and Punjab were dismissed for 196, giving VRA a 36-run victory which kept alive their hopes of reaching the play-offs.

It was much closer at Het Loopveld, where ACC pulled off the unlikely feat of defending their slim total of 150 to beat VOC by 17 runs.

ACC had to battle all the way after being put in by their opponents, Ramdas Upadhyaya taking three for 22, but Ram Ramesh Babu’s patient 48 enabled them to reach 150.

Even so, it seemed unlikely to be enough, especially when Scott Edwards and Max O’Dowd began in aggressive mood.

But Mies van Vliet bowled Edwards for 15, and although O’Dowd delivered another solid innings he received little support from the rest of the upper and middle order, and with Anthony Alangara Napoleon taking four for 28 VOC declined from 83 for two to 133 all out.

O’Dowd was the eighth to go, having made 76, but once Sahil Kothari had removed him with 23 still needed he went on to take the final two wickets and finish with three for 18.

HCC, meanwhile, moved back into second place on the table with a six-wicket victory at De Diepput over an HBS Craeyenhout side depleted by the absence of key overseas players Tayo Walbrugh and Ryan Klein, who had both tested positive for Covid-19.

Hidde Overdijk ripped through the HBS top order, bowling his ten overs unchanged to finish with four for 27, and then Olivier Klaus took over, his three for 11, along with Clayton Floyd’s two for 3, ensuring that HBS were bundled out for 80.

The Craeyenhout side went down fighting, taking four wickets before HCC overhauled their score, but an aggressive 24 not out from Overdijk saw HCC home in just 19.3 overs.

At Sportpark Bermweg Voorburg stayed level on points with HCC, nine points behind Punjab, with a six-wicket victory over Sparta 1888.

Sparta started promisingly enough, a second-wicket stand of 92 between Randeep Deol (29) and Garnett Tarr (57) setting them on course to a decent total, but after they were dismissed in quick succession another batting collapse followed, Stef Mulder and Aryan Dutt taking three for 32 and three for 29 respectively as they were dismissed for 151.

Mohit Hingorani and Tom de Grooth gave Voorburg’s response a solid beginning, and De Grooth went on to anchor the innings, his 76 taking his side to within four runs of their target before he was bowled by Kux Kwinana.

Dutt, though, was still there, and he ended on 34 not out as Voorburg won with more than eleven overs to spare.

Excelsior ’20 Schiedam made short work of Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Drieburg, winning by eight wickets and moving into fourth place on the table on net run rate.

A solid bowling performance, with Niels Etman, Klaas Roelfsema, Tristan Stubbs, Remco van Bochove and Lorenzo Ingram each collecting two wickets, saw Dosti dismissed for 109 after Rahil Ahmed and Mahesh Hans had reached 40 without loss, and Roel Verhagen’s 42-ball 49 and Ingram’s not-out 30 took Excelsior to the win in just 14.4 overs.

De Mey double takes HBS up to second

Rod Lyall 12/07/21

A fine all-round performance by Julian de Mey propelled HBS Craeyenhout to a nine-wicket victory over bottom side Dosti-United Amsterdam on Sunday, taking them into second place on the table, ten points behind leaders Punjab Amsterdam.

De Mey broke open the fragile Dosti batting line-up by removing the dangerous Rahil Ahmed when he had made a 32-ball 37, and went on to take two more, finishing with three for 29 from his ten overs. He was well backed up by young Benno Boddendijk, who cleaned up the tail and ended with four for 15.

Their efforts were instrumental in bowling Dosti out for a mere 128, the last five wickets falling for just 15 runs, and then Tobias Visée and De Mey put on 71 in an opening stand which took only twelve and a half overs.

Visée fell to a splendid catch by Vinoo Tewarie at short extra cover when he had made 44 from 36 deliveries, but as HBS neared their target De Mey launched a series of onslaughts on Mahesh Hans, ending on 47 not out as back-to-back boundaries took his side to the win with more than 30 overs to spare. There was also time for Tayo Walbrugh to add another 20 to his imposing aggregate for the season.

In Saturday’s four games, three of them seriously affected by the weather, the outstanding highlight was an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 237 between Lorenzo Ingram and Tristan Stubbs which enabled Excelsior ’20 Schiedam to run up 295 for two against ACC at Thurlede.

Coming together at 58 for two, Ingram and Stubbs were held in check for much of the innings by a persistent ACC attack, but with plenty of wickets in hand the overseas pair unleashed towards the end, 101 runs coming from the final seven overs as the batters cashed in on their earlier caution.

Ingram ended on 114 not out, his second century of the season coming from 142 deliveries, while Stubbs’s first three-figure haul in the Topklasse took just 98 balls and included six fours and five sixes.

A prolonged period of rain threatened to terminate the game there, but improved conditions enabled the players to return, with ACC set the near-impossible task of making 207 from 28 overs.

Continuing their complete hold on the game, Ingram and Stubbs promptly reduced the Amsterdammers to 23 for four, Ingram taking three for 6 in six overs, and ACC were content to bat out the remaining overs, Ammar Zaidi facing 86 deliveries for 13 not out as his side closed on 51 for six.

It could perhaps have been interpreted as a protest against the unfairness of their situation, had they not batted for 49.1 overs for 85 the week before, chasing an HBS total of 198 for seven.

Leaders Punjab staged a successful comeback against VOC Rotterdam at the Hazelaarweg, after Max O’Dowd and Scott Edwards (59) had put on 106 in an opening stand which gave the challengers an initial advantage.

O’Dowd batted on after Edwards’s departure, but with wickets falling regularly at the other end, three of them to Saqib Zulfiqar’s leg-spin at a cost of 35 runs, it was increasingly clear that VOC’s hopes of setting a big target depended almost entirely upon him.

He was eventually dismissed for 87 by Suleiman Tariq, whose three wickets cost 47 runs, and VOC were all out for 210.

Punjab’s reply was just getting under way as the rain arrived, and when it had passed they were faced with a revised target of 157 from 32 overs.

Another solid performance from the top order saw them home with four overs to spare, Steph Myburgh making 35 and Rehmat Zulfiqar 27 before Asad Zulfiqar and Teja Nidamanuru took their side to the brink of victory.

Nidamanuru fell for 43 with five still needed, but Asad remained 44 not out, his brother Sikander coming to the crease to hit the winning boundary.

Voorburg, second on Saturday morning, also saw their challenge falter, as HCC bowled them out for 132 at Westvliet and went on to win by five wickets in another DLS result.

Veteran former international Tom de Grooth top-scored for Voorburg with a steady 30, but Ollie Klaus took three for 49 and Clayton Floyd five for 18 – consolidating his position as the competition’s leading wicket-taker – as the home side’s batting again subsided.

Bas de Leede and Karl Nieuwoudt hit back hard when HCC replied, and with Tonny Staal, Musa Ahmad and Boris Gorlee all back in the pavilion and only 30 on the board, the Lions found themselves in a precarious situation as the rain arrived.

Their target adjusted to 102 from 27 overs, Damian Crowley and Hidde Overdijk were equal to the task, however, and although De Leede returned to remove Crowley for 41 and Daniël Trijzelaar with successive deliveries with seven still needed, Overdijk remained to finish the job, ending on 35 not out.

De Leede took four for 15, his best return for the season.

The only match to escape Saturday’s rain was in the Amsterdamse Bos, where VRA Amsterdam dismissed Sparta 1888 for 175 and won by seven wickets.

Sparta’s innings started promisingly enough, but Vikram Singh removed both Garnett Tarr (26) and Mudassar Bukhari (31) to ensure that there was no repeat of the Capelle side’s runfest against VOC, and although the lower order chipped in, the rest of the VRA did as well, the six remaining bowlers all claiming a wicket in support of Singh’s three for 24.

Half-century partnerships between Eric Szwarczynski, who made an unbeaten 54, and Jack Balbirnie (37) and then between Szwarczynski and Peter Borren (46 not out) enabled VRA to cruise home, the winning runs coming with more than 20 overs to spare.

The victory gives VRA at least a theoretical chance of reaching the play-offs, although with six points separating them from sixth-placed Excelsior they cannot afford any more slip-ups, and would need other results to go their way.

Sparta shock VOC as Punjab extend their advantage

Rod Lyall 28/06/21

A superb third-wicket stand of 196 by Garnett Tarr and Mudassar Bukhari for Sparta 1888 against VOC Rotterdam on Saturday enabled the Capelle side to reach 316 for eight, far and away their best total of the season, and set up a 95-run victory.

The defeat for VOC, their third in five games, saw them slip back into the peloton of chasing teams, overtaken for second place by Voorburg, who beat VRA Amsterdam in a hard-fought encounter at Westvliet, while Punjab Rotterdam took full advantage by beating Excelsior ’20 Schiedam and moving nine points clear at the top.

Sparta, who have suffered from a succession of poor starts this season, tried a new opening combination of Faisal Iqbal and Randeep Deol, and they put on 65 before Iqbal fell to Max O’Dowd for 47.

Deol soon followed, but missing Bobby Hanif and Pieter Seelaar from their attack VOC could make little impression against Tarr and Bukhari, and the total had reached 261 before Dirk van Baren, who had bowled impressively for no reward, bowled Bukhari for 96.

He had hit 12 fours and two sixes in his 87-ball innings and was unfortunate not to reach a deserved century, but Tarr soon posted his second of the season, departing soon afterwards for 103, made from 99 deliveries with eight fours and three sixes.

That took something out of the momentum of the innings, but the lower order managed to add another 41 before the closure. Van Baren took three for 57 and Pierce Fletcher three for 72.

VOC’s Dutch international openers Max O’Dowd and Scott Edwards were obviously key to their chances of a successful chase, and they made good initial progress against Bukhari and Max Hoornweg.

But with the total on 61 Edwards was removed by Usman Saleem, and with Van Baren and Tim de Kok going cheaply the burden fell increasingly on the shoulders of O’Dowd.

He and Arnav Jain added 54 for the fourth wicket, but the asking rate was becoming steadily steeper, and when O’Dowd was caught behind off Hoornweg for 74 any prospect of a VOC victory was extinguished.

Jain batted on with the tail and was left not out on 46 when the innings ended at 221, Saleem taking three for 43 and Manminder Singh cleaning up at the end for figures of four for 31.

Punjab Rotterdam looked as if they had taken control of their match against Excelsior ‘20 at the Zomercomplex when they dismissed the Schiedammers for 149, Lorenzo Ingram top-scoring with 38 and all seven Punjab bowlers claiming at least one wicket in another fine display in the field, but Excelsior made them work hard for the win.

Stephan Myburgh gave the chase characteristic momentum with a 30-ball blitz for 53, including eight fours and three sixes, but once he had gone the Excelsior attack imposed some order on proceedings, and when Klaas Roelfsema removed Saqib Zulfiqar 24 were still needed and Punjab had only four wickets standing.

Yasir Usman and Suleiman Tariq added 22 of them, however, and only two were required when Tom Heggelman returned to trap Usman leg-before. Irfan ul-Haq levelled the scores and then hit the winning boundary, giving the leaders a three-wicket victory with almost 22 overs to spare.

The contest between Voorburg and VRA Amsterdam was also a lot tighter than the bare result suggests, as Voorburg needed to bat into the 48th over before they overhauled VRA’s total of 178 and won by six wickets.

The Amsterdam side seemed to be on course for a big score as Luke Scully (50) and Eric Szwarczynski (55) took the tally to 120 for one, but the last nine wickets fell for just 58 runs as Voorburg fought back, Philippe Boissevain taking four for 38.

Ashir Abid grabbed two quick wickets when Voorburg replied, and with Quirijn Gunning bowling with plenty of fire it quickly became obvious that the home side would have to work hard for the win.

Sybrandt Engelbrecht and Aryan Dutt gradually turned the game their way with a fourth-wicket stand of 74, and after Dutt departed for 41, Engelbrecht and Karl Nieuwoudt completed the task, Engelbrecht ending on 59 not out and Nieuwoudt on 37.

HCC raced to another overwhelming victory, skittling Dosti Amsterdam for 63 at De Diepput and taking only 9.5 overs to complete an eight-wicket win.

Only Vinoo Tewarie (20) reached double figures for Dosti, while Olivier Klaus cleaned up for HCC with five for 13.

The early dismissal of Musa Ahmad and Boris Gorlee gave the Amsterdammers momentary hope, but Tonny Staal and Damian Crowley saw their side home, Staal finishing with an unbeaten 32 and Crowley with 17.

At Het Loopveld HBS Craeyenhout were also untroubled in beating ACC by 113 runs, mainly thanks to a third-wicket partnership of 130 between Tayo Walbrugh (73) and Navjit Singh (58), which enabled them to reach 198 for seven, and a sustained effort in the field which saw ACC limp to 85 all out in 49.1 overs.

Walbrugh’s knock took his tally for the season to 716 with a century and six fifties from his 10 innings, giving him a realistic chance of reaching the landmark of 1000 runs for the season.

Devanshu Arya took three for 25 for ACC, while Navjit and Stephan Vink did most of the damage for HBS, both finishing with three for 15. Julian de Mey and Ryan Klein set the tone, however, with two for 14 from ten overs and one for 7 from seven respectively.

Punjab edge clear as VOC lose to Voorburg

Rod Lyall 28/06/21

After more overnight rain on Friday it was perhaps not surprising that the bowlers were in command in Saturday’s Topklasse matches, or that only one side passed 150, the highest total of the day Sparta 1888’s 187 all out against Excelsior ‘20 at Thurlede.

Led by Garnett Tarr’s 71 and a brisk 45 from Mamoon Latif that effort, however, proved to be in vain, as the rain returned with Excelsior on a precarious 39 for three after 11.2 overs in reply, and no further play was possible.

This was the more regrettable because the game was fascinatingly poised, with Tristan Stubbs batting with Joost Kroesen and Mudassar Bukhari and Max Hoornweg in full cry for Sparta, and perhaps in the end both sides could reasonably have regarded the single point for a No result as preferable to defeat.

The rain brought a premature end at the Hazelaarweg as well, but in this case Voorburg were on the brink of victory over VOC Rotterdam and took the points on the DLS calculation.

Even without three pace bowlers, Viv Kingma (still unable to bowl), Logan van Beek and Ali Ahmed Qasim, Voorburg’s attack was disciplined and incisive enough to bowl VOC out for 136, Bas de Leede removing Scott Edwards and Max O’Dowd in the opening exchanges, well supported by an accurate ten-over spell from Karl Nieuwoudt.

De Leede returned to clean up the innings and finish with four for 24, but not before Jelte Schoonheim had hit a run-a-ball 55 to rescue his side from a complete debacle, sharing useful partnerships with Arnav Jain and Ramdas Upadhyaya.

In a splendid allround performance the Voorburg captain then produced his best innings of the season, making an unbeaten 57 and with Mohit Hingorani (39 not out) putting on 105 for the second wicket, so that when the weather intervened the Villagers were on 120 for one in 29.1 overs.

The DLS par score at this point was 57, so Voorburg’s winning margin was 63 runs.

Leaders Punjab Rotterdam took full advantage of VOC’s defeat, securing a five-wicket victory over HBS at Craeyenhout and opening up a five-point lead over their nearest rivals.

So severe were the effects of the overnight rain there that the match did not start until 15:30, reduced from the outset to 28 overs a side, and another shower soon cut another four overs, by which time HBS had already lost danger-man Tobias Visée.

Punjab’s attack might have been designed for such a situation, and Suleiman Tariq and his fellow-bowlers expertly contained the home side to 121 for seven, 41 of them from Tayo Walbrugh and a cameo 26 from Wesley Barresi, in his first innings for eighteen months.

Also returning, Saqib Zulfiqar benefited from the batters’ efforts to raise the tempo in the closing stages, removing both Walbrugh and Barresi and finishing with four for 25.

HBS fought hard in the field, but 121 never really seemed likely to be enough, and with all four Zulfiqars and Teja Nidamanuru all chipping in and even Ryan Klein coming in for some heavy punishment, the leaders reached their target with nine deliveries to spare.

The match between VRA Amsterdam and HCC in the Amsterdamse Bos had already been over for an hour and a half when the sides got under way at Craeyenhout, a comedy of batting errors seeing 18 wickets fall for just 137 runs in 25.1 overs.

Hidde Overdijk (four for 20) and Reinier Bijloos (three for 31) were instrumental in skittling VRA for 68, opener Eric Szwarczynski the only man to reach double figures with 16.

HCC might conceivably mount the defence that they were trying to gain maximum benefit for their net run rate, but their smash-and-grab approach nearly backfired when they lost four wickets for just one run and found themselves still needing two to win with only two wickets standing.

Henrico Venter was equal to the challenge, however, and saw them the short distance home, although it was Boris Gorlee’s run-a-ball 26 which had brought them to the brink of victory.

Quirijn Gunning, back from injury, led VRA’s counter-attack with three for 24, while Vikram Singh claimed three for 9.

At Sportpark Drieburg on Sunday ACC beat bottom side Dosti-United by five wickets, the match enlivened by a sensational debut by teenager Zeeshan Master, who took five for 30 as the home side collapsed to 121 all out.

Rahil Ahmed had again given Dosti a decent start with 49, but once Master started to run through the lower order only 24 from Waheed Masood offered any real resistance.

Dosti’s bowlers, especially spinners Asief Hoseinbaks and Mahesh Hans, made ACC fight for every run, but Chris Knoll’s 60 saw them to within two runs of victory, and they completed the win with almost 13 overs to spare.