Wins for VRA and Dosti; Voorburg stay unbeaten

Rod Lyall 08/08/2022

When the sun shines batters traditionally prosper, and Sunday’s thirteenth round of Topklasse fixtures was certainly no exception to the rule: nearly 2800 runs were scored across the six games, there were six centuries including the two highest individual scores of the season, and three partnerships in excess of 150.

The main exceptions to the runfest were in Amsterdam, where four teams under threat of relegation were engaged, but elsewhere the bowlers generally had a pretty lean time.

The day’s chief beneficiaries were leaders Voorburg, who not only saw off their nearest challengers, HBS Craeyenhout, but with the defeat of Excelsior ’20 as well opened up an eight-point gap at the top of the table with three matches to play; this means that they are guaranteed to finish first, thus gaining a double crack at the final and home advantage all the way through the title play-offs.

They had to withstand a spirited challenge from HBS to get there, a century by Tayo Walbrugh – his fourth of the season – taking the Craeyenhout side to 187 for three with 13 overs remaining in their pursuit of Voorburg’s 263 for nine.

But then Stef Mulder, Logan van Beek and Bas de Leede combined to instigate a batting collapse, and with two run-outs in the closing stages HBS were all out for 244, De Leede finishing with three for 27.

Earlier, Andre Malan’s 72-ball 80 and 53 from Van Beek were the highlights of an otherwise not altogether convincing batting effort by the leaders, Wesley Barresi’s four for 42 and Stephan Vink’s three for 36 whittling away at the Voorburgers’ line-up and keeping their side in the hunt.

HCC needed to beat Excelsior at De Diepput to retain any real chance of reaching the final four, and they were pushed all the way before securing a precious 19-run victory.

Their total of 285 for four was founded upon opener Tonny Staal’s 143, made at virtually a run a ball and including ten fours and as many sixes, and his second-wicket stand of 146 with Zac Worden (63).

Excelsior seemed to be facing certain defeat when seamers Hidde Overdijk, Reinier Bijloos and Felix Bennett reduced them to 94 for four, but Lorenzo Ingram launched a ferocious counter-attack, hitting 122 from 115 deliveries with six fours and nine sixes and bringing his side back into the game.

HCC’s spinners, however, had the final word, Damien Crowley breaking a crucial sixth-wicket stand of 83 between Ingram and Stan van Troost (27), and going on to take four for 24 as Excelsior were eventually dismissed for 266.

The biggest totals of the day were at Het Zomercomplex in Rotterdam, where VRA Amsterdam earned their first points in the championship pool by chasing down Punjab’s 316 for nine, in which Jonathan Vandiar had continued his high-scoring run with a 136-ball 143, including no fewer than 19 fours and two sixes.

He shared a fifth-wicket stand of 178 with Saqib Zulfiqar, who contributed a run-a-ball 94 before becoming one of three victims for Peter Borren at a cost of 45 runs.

Sohail Bhatti, playing only his second game of the season, quickly reduced VRA to 41 for two, but then Vikram Singh and Johan Smal combined to put on 156 for the third wicket, Smal making a 66-ball 92 and Singh going on to 118, made from 98 deliveries with 16 fours and four sixes, supported now by Aryan Dutt’s aggressive 44.

Only 25 were needed when Singh departed, and Debrup Dasgupta made 18 of them as VRA pulled off the fourth-highest run chase since 2000 to keep their faint hopes of reaching the championship play-offs alive.

The relegation pool is increasingly resolving itself into two groups of three, as ACC opened up a four-point gap between themselves and the sides below them with a 49-run victory over Salland at Het Loopveld.

The Deventer side dismissed their hosts for 177, Elam Bharathi taking four for 27 and Akhil Gopinath three for 21 and Fergus Wegener top-scoring for ACC with 46, but then they were themselves all out for 128, Bharathi completing a solid all-round effort with Salland’s top score of 29 but receiving too little support from his team-mates; Thomas Hobson claimed three for 21, but it was Mees van Vliet’s four for 24, including the wicket of Bharathi which was most decisive.

On a day dominated by the batters the shining star with the ball, however, was Dosti’s Waheed Masood, who took seven for 21, including a hat-trick, as his side bowled out Sparta 1888 for just 90 and recorded their first win of the season.

Amitoze Singh’s 80 had enabled Dosti to reach 247 before they were all out, Ahsan Malik claiming three for 33 for Sparta and Khalid Ahmadi three for 38, but Masood’s fine effort ensured that the Capelle side were skittled for their third double-figure total in as many weeks.

The win almost certainly comes too late to save Dosti from relegation, but it should serve notice to the other teams in the pool that they cannot take victory for granted against Mahesh Hans’s side.

The day brought disappointment for Kampong Utrecht, who posted their best start of the season against VOC Rotterdam at Maarschalkerweerd but still lost by nine wickets, leaving them with a huge task if they are to fight their way into the top half of the pool.

Ratha Alphonse (44) and Tushar Sharma put on 63 for the first wicket and then Alphonse and Cole Briggs saw them to 118, but another mid-order slump brought VOC back into the game, and it took 32 from Vikram Chaturvedi and Alex Roy’s 42 not out to get them to 224 for seven; Jelte Schoonheim was the most successful bowler for the Rotterdammers with three for 35.

Kampong needed early wickets, but Malik’s dismissal of Francois Fourie was their only success, and with Max O’Dowd making an assured 110 not out and Matt Smit assisting with an unbeaten 77, the pair put on 170 in an unbroken stand which saw VOC home with four overs to spare.

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