Voorburg beat the rain – and Punjab

Rod Lyall 01/08/22

Successive bands of rain disrupted the Topklasse schedule on Sunday, but the three matches which reached a conclusion served to clarify some of the outstanding issues, if not conclusively then to a very definite degree.

The most significant outcome was at Het Zomercomplex, where leaders Voorburg pulled off a notable ten-wicket victory over defending champions Punjab Rotterdam.

Punjab had, for the second week in a row, posted a formidable total, this time putting on 312 for seven, and whereas their 281 against Excelsior last week had been dominated by Jonathan Vandiar’s mammoth innings, this was much more of a combined effort: Rushdie Jappie (19) and Steph Myburgh (41) contributed an opening stand of 60, and then Asad Zulfiqar and Vandiar added 154 for the third wicket in just 23 overs.

Vandiar missed out on another hundred, falling to Andre Malan for a 79-ball 88 which included ten fours and four sixes, and after Asad went for a more restrained 65 the lower order chipped in to get the total past 300.

All Voorburg’s bowlers suffered, Logan van Beek the most economical with one for 44 from his ten overs.

The reply had barely started when there was a rain delay, and Voorburg were set a revised target of 240 from 33 overs, at a rate of 7.27 per over.

Last season Punjab built their title campaign in large measure on a parsimonious attack, but as Excelsior had demonstrated a week ago, they are currently much less effective at staunching the flow of runs, certainly once opposing batters are settled.

This Musa Ahmad and Andre Malan, Voorburg’s openers proceeded to do, and the reply quickly gained momentum, the leaders reaching their target without loss in just 27.3 of the available overs.

Malan was particularly brutal, reaching his century from just 78 deliveries and, once he had passed this milestone, smashing Saqib Zulfiqar for four consecutive sixes; in all he faced 84 balls for his unbeaten 131, which included 14 fours and seven sixes.

Musa had gone along more quietly, but then, on 82 and with 18 needed, he hit Yasir Usman for three sixes to reach an 82-ball century with the winning blow, having struck 12 fours to go with those three sixes.

The win preserves Voorburg’s unbeaten record in the championship pool, and with four games to go they seem virtually certain, not only to finish in the top two but also to go into the finals at the head of the table, thus ensuring home advantage in the play-offs.

The other two games in the pool were abandoned, the match at Thurlede after Excelsior ’20 had reached 175 for five in 39.5 overs against HBS Craeyenhout, thanks to a fourth-wicket stand of 81 between Roel Verhagen (70) and Joost Kroesen (46), while only two overs were possible in the Amsterdamse Bos, where VRA Amsterdam reached 5 without loss against HCC before proceedings came to an end.

The relegation pool match between Dosti Amsterdam and ACC at Sportpark Drieburg managed just four overs, Rahil Ahmed and Waqas Raja reaching 41 without loss for the home side, Raja belting 23 from eight deliveries before the rain set in again.

The other two games in this pool, however, did reach a conclusion, wins for Salland Deventer against Kampong Utrecht at Het Schootsveld and for VOC Rotterdam against Sparta 1888 at the Hazelaarweg significantly reducing any residual fears of relegation the victors may have been suffering.

For Sparta and Kampong, by contrast, the anxiety will have increased: Sparta, dismissed for 83 after collapsing to 61 all out against Salland last week, are now in serious danger of finishing in the bottom three, and potentially occupying one of the two automatic relegation spots.

Pierce Fletcher and Burhan Niaz reduced them to 7 for three inside four overs, and although Samit Gohil (18) and Mudassar Bukhari (21) brought about a partial recovery, Arnav Jain’s three for 20 ran through the lower middle order, and then Max O’Dowd (35) and Scott Edwards (32 not out) made short work of knocking off the runs in just 7.5 overs.

Kampong were reinforced by the advent of Tom Cooper for their journey to Deventer, but despite 53 from Cole Briggs and 36 from Cooper the Utrecht side collapsed from 93 for three to 134 all out, Venkat Ganesan doing much of the damage with five for 37.

Ganesan then hit a 24-ball 32 when Salland replied, but with Alex Roy taking three early wickets the home side had to work hard to reach their fairly modest target, Pasan Ottachchige’s 58 not out turning the innings around after they had lost five wickets for 85.

Ottachchige was supported by Reinder Lubbers in an unbroken stand of 50, and Salland took the points with 16 overs to spare.

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