Topklasse Team of the Year 2022

Bertus de Jong & Rod Lyall 04/10/22

BdJ: While the TK-TOTY teamsheet this year doesn’t quite come with one of the openers pre-printed as it did for the last couple of seasons, one might say Tonny Staal’s name has been helpfully pencilled in for us at the top already. HCC’s former skipper amassed 767 runs at an average of 48 at a healthy strike rate just a shade under 81, his contributions at the top of the order despite the lack of a dependable regular opening partner being instrumental to HCC’s successful title run. A stand-out innings of 143 off 144 against Excelsior in their first phase 2 clash key to HCC’s second-place finish and double-shot at a place in the final. The choice for second opener is perhaps less clear cut, largely because season stop-scorer Tayo Walbrugh did not consistently play that role for HBS, yet though Walbrugh occasionally dropped down to three for the Crows, even on the handful of occasions he’s not opened the batting he might as well have done, generally finding himself in the middle after a few balls regardless. Walbrugh’s tally of 844 runs at an average little over 60 certainly warrants a place somewhere in the top three, but the chief reason to push him down to three would be to make room for VOC’s Max O’Dowd, whose 669 runs from just 13 matches helped keep the Bloodhounds clear of danger this season, and indeed had he and opening partner Scott Edwards not been preoccupied with the national team’s  frenetic schedule VOC’s 2022 might have looked quite different. Similarly Voorburg’s Andre Malan would be a strong contender here had he played a whole season, having taken to Dutch conditions rather better than his more celebrated brother. Malan racked up 395 runs at an average of 65.8 and a strike rate of 110 from the eight games he played, and one suspects if he comes back for a full season he’ll be getting more than an honourable mention.

RL: Staal and Walbrugh were certainly top of my list, but O’Dowd wasn’t far away, and a top three of Staal, O’Dowd and Walbrugh makes perfect sense to me. One might think this is a bit rough on HCC’s Zac Worden, whose admirable consistency brought him 782 runs at 52.13 without his reaching three figures; nine half-centuries in 17 innings was a pretty remarkable effort and contributed significantly to HCC being anywhere near contention for the grand final, although a strike rate of a tad below 60 is a point against him. Others worthy of an honourable mention include Voorburg’s Musa Ahmad and Kampong’s overseas Cole Briggs, the latter too often having to try to hold a fragile batting line-up together.

RL: If we’re repeating last year’s decision to restrict ourselves to two overseas players, then Jonathan Vandiar of Punjab must surely have a decent claim to join Walbrugh in the side: it’s true he only played ten matches, but his tally of 581 runs at 83 with a strike-rate of 95 and including three centuries and two fifties in only eight innings was unquestionably one of the outstanding individual efforts of the season, and it brought some solidity to a Punjab side which fired a good deal below its championship-winning form of last season. There certainly has to be a spot for Voorburg’s skipper Bas de Leede, whose 627 runs came at 48.23 and again did not include a hundred, although he made seven half-centuries. Nor should we forget his 16 wickets at 22.50. Among the wicketkeeper-batters who might tuck into the middle order there’s a strong case for Scott Edwards (VOC), who filled this role successfully in national colours and who did make over 500 runs at an average of almost 50, and he should probably be preferred to either ACC’s Robin Smith or the mercurial but inconsistent Ali Raza of Sparta, who did top the keeping table along with Excelsior’s Roel Verhagen. That brings me to six, but it’s not entirely for sentimental reasons that I want to make a case for VRA captain Peter Borren, who bade farewell to the Topklasse with 377 runs at a strike rate of almost 92 and 15 wickets at an average of 21: as a captain and as a role model he has been a giant in the Dutch game, and I’d unquestionably have him leading this side.

BdJ: Walbrugh’s overseas status is of course not as clear-cut as it once was of course given his rumoured aspirations to orange, and there’s a couple of reasons it might be tempting to fudge things a little on that front. First among them is Delano Potgieter, who was a big reason VCC looked nigh-unbeatable early in the season. 17 wickets at an unmatched average of 10.94 and 259 runs at 43 across his ten matches make him one of the summer’s most impressive acquisitions, despite his status as a short-stay. Excelsior too picked their overseas wisely, Brett Hampton bagging 21 wickets and kicking in some decisive knocks down the order, and Lorenzo Ingram again proving his worth with 647 rns at 59 despite a comparatively quiet season with the ball. Failing overseas rule-bending, a case might also be made for Wesley Barresi whose 626 runs at 48 for HBS kept the Crows in contention deep into the season. As m’collegue observes, however, there are good reasons to argue for Borren’s inclusion beyond valedictory nostalgia and a vague feeling that we’ve unjustly overlooked him in the past. While Borren would be a shoe-in for team of the decade, he has admittedly had a merely adequate personal season by his own standards. As captain, however, he saw VRA through a season that many speculated would be a relegation battle – without any overseas and denied the services of Quirijn Gunning, Eric Szwarczynski and Ben Cooper –  and took what was essentially a youth team with hangers-on into the championship group.

BdJ: Of Borren’s young charges, Aryan Dutt stood out in the slow-bowling department, taking 24 wickets at 16 in the Topklasse when not bagging likes of Nicholas Pooran or Babar Azan in orange. Fellow teenaged spinner Shariz Ahmad likewise managed to fit in an excellent domestic season around his international commitments, taking 31 wickets at 17 for VCC, and when it comes to spin options it’s hard to look past the two 19 year-old break-outs. That said, HCC’s Clayton Floyd has a winners’ medal to go along with his 25 wickets, while Alex Roy’s efforts in Kampong’s doomed campaign were among the few positives in the Utrecht side’s ill-fated top-flight return. Salland’s German spin pair Venkat Ganesan and Elam Bharathi are also worth a mention here, though it’s perhaps hard to make a case for either individually (if only because there’s little to choose) they did take 42 wickets at 17.5 between them, and their contribution to Salland’s survival is difficult to overstate.

RL: To take the quicker bowlers first, Roy is certainly a strong contender with his 23 wickets at 20.48. So too is ACC’s Mees van Vliet, who had the best strike rate of all the front-line bowlers and who led the wicket-taking table for much of the season, only pipped by Hidde Overdijk as HCC played three extra games in the finals series. With 38 wickets at 16.18 Overdijk surely has to be included, and to have him coming in at eight would also give the batting additional depth. Others deserving serious consideration include Ahsan Malik of Sparta, who often kept his side in contention by securing the early breakthrough, Excelsior’s new-ball combination of Niels Etman and the evergreen Tom Heggelman, and Ryan Klein of HBS. With De Leede and Borren in the side and Overdijk getting a shout as well, I’m left with a difficult choice between Roy and Van Vliet, and I’m happy in the end to go along with m’colleague’s nomination of the former. In the spin department it is indeed a choice of two from off-spinner Dutt, the leg-breaks (or more accurately, wrong’uns) of Shariz, and the left-arm spin of Floyd. Seemingly under-rated at international level, Floyd is a proven wicket-taker, but in another very close call I too would give the last two places to Dutt and Shariz.

So there you have it, TKcricket’s Team of the Year:

Staal (HCC), O’Dowd (VOC), Walbrugh (HBS), De Leede (Voorburg), Vandiar (Punjab), †Edwards (VOC), *Borren (VRA), Overdijk (HCC), Roy (Kampong), Dutt (VRA), Shariz (Voorburg).


HCC hold their nerve and take the title

Rod Lyall 11/09/2022

HCC held their nerve in another tense finish at Westvliet on Saturday, to beat Voorburg by 12 runs and claim their 47th national title, their first since 2008.

It was a bitter disappointment for Voorburg, who had led the competition throughout the season and who had beaten the same opponents by four wickets in last weekend’s semi-final, but HCC showed the same resilience and determination that had then taken them past HBS the following day and into the grand final.

Voorburg, it is true, missed Logan van Beek, called up by New Zealand A, but their squad had strength in depth, and they still went into this match clear favourites to take the second national championship in the club’s history.

It looked promising enough when, after a delayed start which led to the game being reduced to 46 overs a side, Viv Kingma bowled Damian Crowley with the very first ball, and when HCC were labouring their way to 79 for four after 27 overs.

Bas de Leede managed his attack effectively in the conditions, ensuring that runs were at a premium, and it took a fine stand of 108 for the fifth wicket between Tim Pringle and Hidde Overdijk to lift the tempo in the latter stages of the innings.

Overdijk was eventually bowled by Andre Malan for 52, but Pringle, who hit four sixes, stayed to the close, finishing with an unbeaten 64, and his side ended on 200 for five.

De Leede was the pick of the bowlers with one for 31 from nine overs, while Kingma had one for 35 and Malan two for 39.

Playing his final Topklasse match, Reinier Bijloos then gave HCC a great start, removing Malan and Mohit Hingorani in the third over of their reply and reducing them to 12 for two.

Musa Ahmad and De Leede rebuilt the innings with a partnership of 62, but after the Voorburg captain was brilliantly run out by a direct hit from Floyd as they attempted a second run, it was largely left to Musa to craft a victory.

Seamer Felix Bennett soon had Sybrand Engelbrecht caught behind, but it was now HCC’s spin trio of Floyd, Pringle and Crowley who steadily applied the pressure, and the asking rate began to inch its way upwards.

Tom de Grooth contributed 18 before he was well caught by Zac Worden at point off Floyd, but Voorburg were still in with a good chance as Shariz Ahmad settled in with his elder brother, who by now had gone past fifty for the sixth time this season.

The spinners had created the pressure, but it was the return of Hidde Overdijk which spelled the end for Musa, who holed out to Crowley at mid-off trying to hit him over the top; his patient 75 had come from 135 deliveries and included six boundaries.

Ali Ahmad Qasim made a rollicking 10-ball 17, hitting two fours and a six, but Voorburg needed 24 off the final two overs, and as he and Shariz tried to squeeze out every run he was, inevitably perhaps, the victim of a mid-pitch mix-up, and the home side were left to make 16 from the last.

Shariz had no option but to hit out, falling to a Pringle catch in the deep off Hidde Overdijk’s first ball and departing for 30, and when Stijn de Leede was bowled off the penultimate ball Kingma could only dig out a final yorker and HCC’s celebrations began.

They had gone into the second phase of the competition well off the pace, but they got steadily better as the play-offs approached, and showed great character in two very tense matches at the end.

HCC hold on to win a thriller

Rod Lyall 05/09/2022

In an absorbing finals weekend in which three Topklasse matches had combined margins of no more than 27 runs, two of them going into the final over, the climax came on Sunday evening with HCC squeezing past HBS Craeyenhout at De Diepput and into next week’s grand final against Voorburg.

Three wickets fell in Hidde Overdijk’s final over with just five runs needed for an HBS victory, and a game which had started dramatically and which continued to twist and turn throughout the day ended in a three-run win for Boris Gorlee’s Lions.

It had begun with HCC, after winning the toss, on 6 for two after two overs, Damian Crowley brilliantly caught by Reece Mason at point off Ryan Klein’s bowling and then Zac Worden falling to Ferdi Vink without scoring.

A useful stand between Tonny Staal and Gorlee saw the total on to 65, but then a flurry of three wickets, two of them catches by Mason at point, left HCC again struggling at 73 for five.

This time the rescue came from Hidde Overdijk (31) and Yash Patel (40), who added 84 for the sixth wicket, and with Clayton Floyd contributing 20 before he was superbly caught by Ryan Klein off his own bowling, the home side managed to set a reasonably demanding total of 206.

Gavin Kaplan had bowled with his usual discipline for figures of three for 27, while Julian de Mey took three for 34.

Tayo Walbrugh, who made 35 without looking entirely comfortable, and Kaplan gave HBS a great start with an opening stand of 66 at six an over, but when Jan-Wieger Overdijk, in only his second Topklasse game of the season, removed Walbrugh and then Kaplan was the victim of a dreadful mid-pitch mix-up and departed for 29 HCC were suddenly back in the game.

Mason and Wesley Barresi steadily restored the Crows’ fortunes with a partnership worth 65 for the fourth wicket, but the turning point came when Barresi, having reached 50 with an innings which combined patience with moments of aggressive strokeplay, tried to hit Hidde Overdijk over midwicket and holed out to Felix Bennett on the boundary.

With HCC’s spinners, Floyd, Tim Pringle and Crowley, tightening the screw and the brothers Overdijk, along with Bennett, providing contrasting pace, HBS were hard-pressed to make the 63 they still needed, but De Mey, after looking all at sea when he first came to the crease, batted with increasing determination, and with the support of the lower order he whittled away at the deficit.

34 were still needed with five overs left, and now HBS had only three wickets in hand; only two came from Pringle’s final over, and now the ask was 32 from four.

A six by De Mey off Crowley in an over that yielded 12 runs eased the pressure considerably, and after ten came from Hidde Overdijk’s next HBS required ten from two.

Five were still needed as Overdijk began the last, but when De Mey, looking to find the boundary, was caught for 37 off the second delivery and Ferdi Vink fell off the next, five were still required as last man Stephan Vink, nursing a hamstring injury suffered during the HCC innings, joined young Martijn Scholte in the middle.

A single left Vink needing to find the boundary off the final delivery, but he could only find Pringle at long off, and HCC were able to celebrate an epic victory.

Hidde Overdijk finished with four for 42 and Jan-Wieger with two for 35, but it was arguably the spinners who had set up the win with their steadiness in the middle overs.

They had very nearly gone directly into the final by beating Voorburg at Westvliet on Saturday, when Staal (77) and Worden (80) had produced a second-wicket stand of 146 as HCC chased Voorburg’s total of 234 for six, but a collapse by the middle order, only Bennett reaching double figures, saw them dismissed for 220.

Here it was the seamers who kept them in the game, Reinier Bijloos taking two for 24 and Hidde Overdijk and Bennett each two for 44, but a fourth-wicket partnership of 112 between Bas de Leede (86) and Sybrand Engelbrecht (61) provided the basis of Voorburg’s score.

Shariz Ahmad struck early when HCC replied, and after Staal and Worden’s long partnership, Philippe Boissevain, Andre Malan and Shariz combined to reduce the Lions from 148 for one to 194 for eight before De Leede and Viv Kingma returned to finish things off and take Voorburg straight into the grand final.

It was even closer at Thurlede, where Excelsior ’20 failed by just 10 runs to match the HBS total of 261 for eight.

After Walbrugh fell to a stunning return catch by Niels Etman off the very first ball of the match Kaplan and Barresi put on 188 for the second wicket, Barresi making 86 and Kaplan going on to a 114-ball 107.

Although Etman (three for 51) and Tom Heggelman (three for 46) pegged the later batting back the Crows still managed to set an imposing total, but Heggelman and Tim Etman responded with an opening stand of 105, Etman hitting a 50-ball 78 which included 11 fours and four sixes.

It looked as if Excelsior were on course for victory as Stan van Troost, promoted to three, made a 50-ball 52, but three wickets by Ryan Klein saw them subside from 186 for two to 218 for five, and now it was up to Lorenzo Ingram to see his side home.

With wickets falling at the other end he brought the total to 242, but once he had gone, caught by Scholte off Navjit Singh for 33, it was only a matter of time, and the innings ended on 251, Klein finishing with three for 29 and Navjit three for 35.

In the finals of the Hoofdklasse competition Hermes-DVS, who had seen off Bloemendaal on Saturday to set up a rematch with Quick Haag in the grand final, dismissed their opponents for just 88 after making 193 for nine, winning by 105 runs and setting up a play-off against Sparta 1888 next week to decide which of the sides will play in next season’s Topklasse.

Ali Raza ton gives Sparta a lifeline

Rod Lyall 29/08/2022

A splendid century from wicketkeeper Ali Raza fired Sparta 1888 to their highest total of the season in the showdown match against Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Bermweg on Sunday, paving the way to a 152-run victory and a play-off against the Hoofdklasse champions to determine who will play in the Topklasse next season.

Raza came in after Asief Hoseinbaks had trapped Craig Ambrose in front with the first ball of the match and proceeded to hit 122, from 126 deliveries with seven fours and five sixes, sharing a third-wicket stand of 115 with Mudassar Bukhari.

In what was rumoured to be his final Topklasse match Bukhari, knowing how vital the game was for his club, made an a-typically cautious 42, and his partnership with Raza, and a lightning 17-ball 39 from Khalid Ahmadi in the closing stages, saw Sparta to 253 for seven.

Dosti, who had staged a semi-miraculous recovery in recent weeks to give themselves a chance of staying in the top flight, had no answer to this, former international Ahsan Malik (three for 22 in ten overs), Joost Martijn Snoep (two for 21) and Ahmadi (two for 23, including the vital wicket of Amitoze Singh) combining to dismiss the Amsterdammers for 101.

Only Rahil Ahmed (32) and Kuldeep Diwan (22) reached double figures, and it was appropriately Bukhari who returned to claim the final wicket.

In the Championship Pool the most significant match was at Thurlede, where HCC made sure of second place and a double opportunity of reaching the grand final on 10 September with a 5-wicket victory over Excelsior ’20.

Electing to bat first, Excelsior struggled for runs throughout their innings, Lorenzo Ingram top-scoring with a patient 43 and Tim Etman making 33, with left-arm spinners Tim Pringle (three for 18) and Clayton Floyd (three for 20) again dominant.

HCC’s strong top order then seemed comparatively untroubled in knocking off the runs, Tonny Staal making 47, Zac Worden 43 and skipper Boris Gorlee 67 as the side reached their target with eleven and a half overs to spare.

One bright spot for Excelsior was the bowling of Luuk Kroesen, who again contributed a fine spell, claiming two for 41 from his ten overs.

HCC’s main rivals for the second spot, HBS Craeyenhout, were meanwhile losing to leaders Voorburg at Westvliet, being dismissed for 143 in pursuit of their hosts’ 236 for five.

Andre Malan again led the way for Voorburg with 52, following up his unbeaten century on Saturday, but the key to their total was a run-a-ball 69 not out from Sybrand Engelbrecht, who shared an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 74 with Shariz Ahmad (33 not out).

Shariz then went on to break the back of the HBS reply, removing both openers and finishing with four for 40, while his fellow wrist-spinner Philippe Boissevain took three for 27.

Tobias Visée, back in the HBS side after a six-match absence, made 35, Wesley Barresi 36 and Julian de Mey 29, but they were the only batters to reach double figures as Voorburg comtinued their apparently irresistible march towards the title.

An opening stand of 166 between Shirase Rasool and Luke Scully set VRA Amsterdam on course to the highest total of the day against Punjab Rotterdam in the Amsterdamse Bos, Scully making 79 and Rasool going on to 108.

The Punjab bowlers worked their way through the middle order in the latter part of the innings, but after that great start the home side still finished with 282 for seven, Teja Nidamanuru the most economical of the Rotterdammers’ attack with just 37 coming from his ten overs.

Half-centuries from Rushdie Jappie (53) and Jonathan Vandiar (57) gave Punjab an outside chance of chasing down their massive target, but both were dismissed by Peter Borren, and after they had gone Udit Nashier ran through the later batters, completing his best-ever Topklasse haul with five for 46.

Punjab fought all the way to the end, but they were finally dismissed for 243, a result which enabled VRA to leapfrog over them and finish in fifth position on the table.

Kampong Utrecht, in many ways the most unfortunate team in this year’s competition, completed their programme with a 3-wicket win over VOC Rotterdam at the Hazelaarweg, but they will nevertheless be playing in the Hoofdklasse next season.

Kertan Nana set them on the way by removing both Max O’Dowd and Scott Edwards by the time 48 runs were on the board, and at 149 for nine, Tushar Sharma having claimed three of the wickets, VOC seemed doomed to post a very modest target.

But last man Pieter Seelaar, doubtless hampered by the back injury which has ended his international career, now joined Pierce Fletcher, and the pair proceeded to add 78 for the tenth wicket, 44 of them coming from Seelaar’s bat in just 27 deliveries.

Ratha Alphonse blasted a 60-ball 77, including 11 fours and a six, when Kampong replied, Cole Briggs contributing a run-a-ball 40, but once they had gone the innings threatened to subside until a determined 28 from Alex Roy and an unbroken stand between Nana and skipper Usman Malik saw the Utrechters home.

The closest match of the day was at Het Schootsveld, where Salland Deventer hung on to beat ACC by one wicket with three overs to spare.

ACC’s total of 175 was largely due to captain Anis Raza, who top-scored with 60, while Elam Bharathi claimed three for 24 for Salland.

Mees van Vliet took three for 40 when Salland replied, bringing his tally for the season to 31, but Bharathi’s 48 was the basis of the home side’s response, and in a tense conclusion with the last pair together the win came most unfortunately for ACC from five wides.

Wins for HCC, Excelsior set up another Sunday showdown

Rod Lyall 28/08/2022

Victories for second-placed HCC and for Excelsior ’20 on Saturday set up a final-round clash which would determine which of the two sides would join Voorburg in next week’s first semi-final, with a double chance of reaching the grand final on 10 September.

HCC had to battle all the way to overcome VRA Amsterdam at De Diepput, a defeat for the Amsterdam side which ended their already slim hopes of squeezing into the semi-finals.

After winning the toss and electing to bat HCC were soon reduced to 38 for four, including a bizarre first wicket when opener Joost Kooistra instinctively used his hand to deflect the ball away from his stumps and was given out Obstructing the field, the first such dismissal in the Topklasse since 2015.

It made a memorable debut over for VRA left-armer Aaditt Jain, who went on to remove Tonny Staal in more conventional fashion, while Vikram Singh accounted for Boris Gorlee and Damian Crowley.

The Lions were rescued by half-centuries from their two overseas players, Zac Worden (54) and Tim Pringle (51), and with Hidde Overdijk contributing 35 and a cameo 5-ball 15 not out from Felix Bennett they were able to get the total up to 184 for eight.

Singh finished with four for 43, while Jain had a promising debut with two for 36, including the prized wicket of Worden.

Shirase Rasool and Singh got VRA’s chase off to a decent start, and even after Overdijk had removed Rasool and Bennett had claimed the wickets of Udit Nashier and Luke Scully they reached 95 for three and seemed well-placed to knock off the runs.

But then HCC’s three-man spin attack of Clayton Floyd, Pringle and Crowley regained control, and once Overdijk had returned to remove Singh, caught behind by Staal for 48, wickets began to tumble.

Jack Balbirnie made 37, but with two wickets apiece for the three spinners VRA were eventually dismissed for 162, losing by 22 runs.

Excelsior had to overcome a fine double from Gavin Kaplan, who took five for 43 and made 93, before completing a gripping 13-run victory over HBS at Craeyenhout.

After Tom Heggelman made a patient 46 at the top of Excelsior’s innings Lorenzo Ingram (86) and Stan van Troost (50) shared a fourth-wicket stand of 94 to take their side to 234 for three, but then in a dramatic end to the innings six wickets fell in the space of just nine deliveries for the addition of seven runs as the Schiedammers subsided to 250 all out.

Kaplan was the chief agent of the collapse, also adding a run-out to his tally, while Ryan Klein chipped in with three for 43.

Heggelman struck an early blow when HBS replied, removing the dangerous Tayo Walbrugh before he had scored, but a stand of 97 between Kaplan and Barresi set the home side on course for the win.

Ingram broke the partnership, Barresi holing out to Heggelman at long on when he had made 38, and Excelsior gradually took control through a fine spell of spin bowling from young Luuk Kroesen, enjoying his most extended bowl in the Topklasse and conceding just 21 runs from his ten overs.

The crucial moment came when Kaplan was smartly run out attempting to get back for a second run, and thereafter the asking rate began to climb, some quick thinking by Roel Verhagen behind the stumps producing two more dismissals.

Niels Etman claimed three for 49 as HBS tried to force the pace, and with 21 needed off his final over even a six by last man Stephan Vink wasn’t enough, HBS closing on 237 for nine.

Leaders Voorburg, meanwhile, cruised to an eight-wicket victory over Punjab Rotterdam at Westvliet, an unbeaten 103 from Andre Malan and a half-century by Musa Ahmad enabling them to pass the defending champions’ total of 171 in 26.2 overs.

After winning the toss Punjab collapsed to 53 for six, Karl Nieuwoudt taking three wickets and Bas de Leede two, before Teja Nidamanuru (43) and Sikander Zulfiqar (57 not out) achieved a partial rescue with a seventh-wicket stand of 84.

Nieuwoudt finished with three for 26 and Shariz Ahmad removed the middle order for figures of three for 37, De Leede taking two for 28.

Malan and Musa then put up another century opening stand for Voorburg, leaving Punjab with a tricky visit to the Amsterdamse Bos on Sunday where even a win might not be enough to see them squeeze into the semi-finals.

Phase 2: Round 6 Preview

Rod Lyall and Bertus de Jong 26/08/2022

Writing this before the penultimate round of Championship Pool matches adds an element of unreality to the exercise: by Saturday evening we will have a clearer idea of what five of the top six will need to do on Sunday to make the semi-finals, or indeed whether that is still possible. In the Relegation Pool things are much more certain: most of the attention will be on events at the Bermweg, where Sparta and Dosti have a shoot-out to decide which of them gets the lifeline of a play-off against the champions of the Hoofdklasse (currently likely to be Hermes-DVS or Quick Haag, or just possibly Rood en Wit or Bloemendaal). The other four Relegation Pool sides will be playing for pride, and perhaps with an eye to next year.

RL: Depending upon the outcome of their Saturday encounters against HBS and VRA respectively, Excelsior and HCC may well be battling to stay in the four (in Excelsior’s case) or to hold on to second position, with its double-crack at the grand final (in HCC’s). Excelsior have the advantage of literally playing on their own turf, but they also know that despite a valiant Lorenzo Ingram century they fell just short against these opponents at De Diepput after Tonny Staal had hammered 143. Niels Etman, Tom Heggelman and Brett Hampton are a different proposition at Thurlede, but Excelsior will need early wickets to contain HCC’s batting line-up, while they will equally need their own top order to perform well against a well-balanced HCC attack. The Lions are finishing strongly after a patchy start to the campaign, but with so much at stake this is likely to be a very tight game indeed.

BdJ: With both teams reluctantly facing a double-header there’s a real question of what sort of a side each will be able to muster for the second fixture. The late notice for last Saturday’s switch is understood to have caused player-availability headaches for both captains for the weekend, and it’s possible the outcome will be determined by just how successful Gorlee and Heggelman have been in their respective last minute ring-rounds. One thing that is certain however, is that the hosts will be without Brett Hampton, whose departure will put even more on the shoulders of Ingram in the middle order, especially when it comes to dealing with HCC’s left arm spin threat.

RL: Having played fewer matches than their main rivals for a top four spot HBS Craeyenhout can be fairly sanguine about their final-round encounter with Voorburg at Westvliet, and will be especially so if they carry into this game the points from Saturday. There’s little more to say about the attributes of a Voorburg side which has lost just twice all season, and which will presumably be intent on completing their regular programme in style as they move into the finals phase. At their best (which means with Tayo Walbrugh and Wesley Barresi on song with the bat and Ryan Klein and Ferdi Vink cutting through with the ball) the Crows can be a match for anyone in the competition, and after being in second spot for much of the second phase they will be very keen to regain that privileged place if its humanly possible. With 809 runs under his belt with at least three matches (and perhaps as many as five) to go, moreover, Walburgh has an outside chance of becoming the first batter since 2017 to reach 1000 runs in a top-flight season.

BdJ: Another two teams hit with late-season departures, HBS are understood to be without Gavin Kaplan (and likely the semi-retired Toby Visée who has been only intermittently available all season) while Voorburg have lost Logan van Beek, who received a summons from New Zealand A over the weekend. The latter’s call-up alongside former Netherlands team-mate and newly-ascended Blackcap Michael Rippon will be of concern to the Oranje fans too of course, though such questions rather beyond the remit of a lowly Topklasse preview. The rest of VCC’s international contingent will be back however, having given good account of themselves against Pakistan. The game will of course be an exercise in momentum-building for the Voorburgers, already assured of the top spot, while for HBS it may yet prove decisive.

RL: Whether VRA Amsterdam still have a chance of reaching the four at 11:00 on Sunday will depend on Saturday’s events, and in particular on whether they have managed to bring the points back to Amstelveen from De Diepput. Either way, Peter Borren’s side will want to finish the regular season with a win over Punjab Rotterdam, whose own prospects of a semi-final spot may well demand a win here. They will, of course, be without Johan Smal, while Punjab will still have Jonathan Vandiar, the continuation of whose purple patch looks crucial to their hopes of – unlikely though it may appear from here – successfully defending their Topklasse title. If the weather holds the VRA ground could be the setting for a bonanza of runs, but that would need the home side’s top order to show what it is capable of rather more successfully than they have done for much of the season.

BdJ: While Ireland women did manage to rack up a record score there on Wednesday, the VRA square looks to be showing the effects of a long season in recent weeks. Neither the pitch nor the outfield are likely to be near as quick as they were when England visited, nor the boundaries as near as they were at the Zomercomplex when these sides last met. Despite the limitations of both sides bowling, expect runs to be somewhat harder to come by that in their last encounter, and fielding to have a more discernible role in the game. Depending on how other games shake out this fixture could prove a de-facto eliminator or an irrelevance to composition of the final four, though it will surely be keenly contested regardless.

RL: Nowhere will more be at stake on Sunday than at Sportpark Bermweg, where the loser of the encounter between Sparta 1888 and Dosti Amsterdam will head into next year’s Hoofdklasse, while the winners will meet this season’s Hoofdklasse champions to decide whether they stay up. Dosti began their three-match winning run by beating Sparta at Drieburg on 7 August, while Sparta lost four on the trot before beating a greatly-weakened VOC last Saturday. Now without Samit Gohil, Sparta are even more reliant on Mudassar Bukhari (who may, it is rumoured, retired after this game) and Ahsan Malik, while Dosti’s sudden return to winning form owes much to Amitoze Singh, Kuldeep Diwan and Waheed Masood. Dosti’s escape would be Houdini-esque were they to pull it off, and it is unquestionably they who will travel to Capelle with the wind in their sails.

BdJ: It’s faintly odd to be talking about the momentum of a side that’s barely won a game in the last two years, but there’s no question Dosti have looked a different team in the last few weeks. While Singh and Diwan have certainly started pulling their weight, they seem to have dragged the rest of the team in the same direction too. Vinoo Tewarie, Waqas Raja and Asief Hoseinbaks have also added occasional contributions, and a modicum of self-belief has crept into the Dosti dressing room. It will take something of a turnaround in the Spartan camp to derail the long-delayed Dosti train now, though a Bukhari valedictory could certainly still sink his old club.

RL: A strong second phase has seen Salland Deventer firmly established at the top of the pool table and confirmed as part of next year’s ten-team Topklasse, while ACC can travel to Het Schootsveld secure in the knowledge that despite last week’s loss to Dosti they, too, have avoided the drop, by virtue of having a better points average than any rivals even if they lose again here. Whether Salland’s Germans can outdo ACC’s South Africans is likely to be a key issue, although the brothers Lubbers for the hosts and Mees van Vliet for the Amsterdammers will ensure plenty of local interest as well.

BdJ: While of no particular import to the competition, the season’s final fixture still offers ACC and Salland the chance to finish on a high, the latter especially have something of a point to prove in their first season in the top-flight (in this incarnation at least). Young van Vliet has his place at the top of the wicket-taking table to shore-up before ACC sit out the final phase, while Smith and Hobson will both be eyeing up 500-run seasons. It may only be pride on the line, but then neither side lacks for that.

RL: VOC Rotterdam, likewise, are safe as houses, while Kampong Utrecht make the journey to the Hazelaarweg knowing that after a very disappointing season they are heading back to the Hoofdklasse. It would pretty much cap things off if, having beaten Punjab and HCC in Phase One, they were to add VOC to their scalps, but in reality a higher priority ought to be starting the process of building a side capable of gaining promotion again next year. In Alex Roy, Kertan Nana, Pierre Jacod and Tushar Sharma they have the nucleus of a much better team than they have been able to show this season, and they will doubtless have benefited from an exposure which cannot have been easy at times. VOC, also, have work to do, if they are to overcome their dependence on O’Dowd, Edwards and Seelaar, which narrowly cost them a place in the top six this year. There may not seem to be much to play for at the Hazelaarweg, but finishing the season with a strong performance would offer the players some slight consolation. #ThereAreNoDeadRubbers.

BdJ: Kampong have certainly been dealt a rough hand by the format-fates this season, playing most of their away games on mats and then seeing most of their hard-won points evaporate at the phase-change, and may well feel their impending return to the Hoofdklasse is something of an injustice. The loss of Pite van Biljon to illness at the crunch phase and stop-gap replacement Tom Cooper’s insistence on scoring all his runs against Pakistan rather than the likes of Salland or Dosti did not help their cause either, though their reliance on overseas players for runs (albeit a failing they share with luckier sides) suggests the step up to Topklasse was one they weren’t quite ready for. They will doubtless have a point to prove against the Bloodhounds come Sunday though, while VOC will likely be glad to return to their accustomed happy-go-lucky approach to Topklasse competition in a pressure-free finale. Said insouciance has rarely prevented O’Dowd or Edwards from racking up runs of course, nor even the mercurial Tim de Kok on occasion. With Cooper back in Australia already, Kampong’s attack will need to be at their best and the batting considerably better if they’re to take another scalp back down to the Hoofdklasse.

RL’s picks: Excelsior, Voorburg, VRA, Dosti, Salland, VOC
BdJ’s picks: HCC, Voorburg, VRA, Dosti, ACC, VOC

Dosti and Sparta head for a showdown

Rod Lyall 21/08/2022

Dosti Amsterdam’s 59-run victory over ACC at Het Loopveld on Saturday took them a further step towards avoiding automatic relegation, but they will still face a difficult expedition to Capelle a/d IJssel next Sunday in their quest for a place in the play-off against the champions of the Hoofdklasse.

Next week’s showdown at the Bermweg was set up by Sparta 1888’s 75-run win over a greatly-weakened VOC Rotterdam on Saturday, which brought the Capelle side level on points with Dosti, although they have played a game more and are therefore behind them on points average.

After winning just one league match in the previous two seasons and losing their first eleven games this year Dosti have now won three in a row, a last-ditch revival which leaves them two wins away from retaining their place in the Topklasse.

Their defeat of ACC owed much to a fourth-wicket stand of 142 between Vinoo Tewarie (64) and Amitoze Singh (82), which enabled them to recover from a precarious 46 for four and reach a competitive 236 for nine.

Mees van Vliet was again the pick of ACC’s bowlers, finishing with three for 45.

The home side began their chase promisingly, Thomas Hobson and Robin Smith putting on 74 for the first wicket, but once Smith, on 65, had been caught at short cover by Tewarie off the bowling of Kuldeep Diwan the middle order fell apart, only Anis Raza with 34 showing any real resistance.

Diwan took five for 34, his best return of the season, and ACC were all out for 177.

At Sportpark Bermweg VOC’s Max Hoornweg marked his return to his former club with a haul of four for 24, enabling his side to restrict Sparta to 156 for eight from their 50 overs.

They seemed to be heading for an even lower total when they collapsed to 93 for eight, but they were rescued by Ahsan Malik and Usman Saleem, not out on 42 and 36 respectively as they shared an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 63.

Daan van Everdingen, playing first first top-flight match for ten years, gave VOC a solid start with 28, but otherwise only captain Tim de Kok with 21 delayed the Sparta victory for any length of time, Khalid Ahmadi taking four for 16, Joost Martijn Snoep three for 27 and Malik two for 23 as VOC were dismissed for just 83.

Kampong Utrecht’s attempt to avoid automatic relegation came to a disappointing end at Maarschalkerweerd, where they fell 22 runs short of their target as they chased Salland’s 194 for eight.

52 from Sahir Naqash, 31 from opener Venkat Ganesan and 34 from Elam Bharathi enabled Salland to reach their total, Tushar Sharma the most successful of Kampong’s bowlers with three for 32, but stand-in captain Reinder Lubbers, deputising for his brother Victor, removed both openers, and Kampong were in trouble at 36 for three.

Cole Briggs and Vikram Chaturvedi managed a partial revival, but once Akhil Gopinath trapped Briggs in front for 60 the innings again fell apart, and with Gopinath finishing with three for 28 and two wickets apiece for Lubbers, Ganesan and Bharathi, Kampong were all out for 173.

Phase 2: Round 5, Preview 1

Bertus de Jong & Rod Lyall 18/08/20

Two rounds to go, and there’s a few things we already know for sure. Voorburg will top the table, while VOC, Salland and ACC have secured safety in the lower half. There the battle is now between Dosti, Sparta and Kampong for the one remaining chance to stay up, while at the top of the table HCC, HBS, Excelsior and Punjab are all tied in second on six points. VRA, two points behind the pack, almost certainly need to win both their last matches. The entire round for the top half has been shifted back by a week however, all three matches having been deferred (not without protest in some cases) due to the absence of international players owing to the Pakistan series.

BdJ: With two consecutive wins under their belt, Dosti Amsterdam will have a modicum of momentum on their side as they cross the river to take on ACC in their penultimate match. Dosti find themselves remarkably well placed to stage a last-ditch escape via the relegation play-off, with a points average advantage over Sparta and a NRR lead over both their remaining rivals. Nonetheless they’ll need to win at least one and probably both of their last games to get there. Despite ACC having little left to play for but pride, they are safe for good reason. The principle reason being Mees van Vliet’s remarkable season that’s seen him top the wicket-taking table, and a steady supply of runs from overseas Hobson and Smith. Dosti arguably look the more balanced side however, with a solid roster of spin options and Amitoze Singh finding some form. They will likely need more runs from the rest of the order in the next two weeks if they’re to keep their hopes of another Topklasse season alive however.

RL: Whatever the chemical reaction that has turned Dosti from serial losers to winners of two matches in a row (all right, it’s not much, but everybody has to start somewhere), there should be teams of scientists trying to identify the elements of the process with a view to patenting them. Two more victories would give Mahesh Hans’s side a real chance of staying up, but the close run ACC gave VOC last week should caution them about thinking that their visit to Het Loopveld will be straightforward. On the other hand, after a brilliant start from Smith and Knoll the rest of the ACC batting contributed fewer than a hundred runs against VOC, and although Fergus Wegener has started to look solid in the middle order they may find the going tough against Waheed Masood and Co. Could be close, but Dosti have the wind in their sails.

BdJ: Likewise Kampong have little room for error if they are to secure a second season in the top flight. Taking on Salland this week, it’s not certain what sort of strength side they’ll be welcoming to Utrecht given that Salland have no need of points from here. Kampong will certainly be without Tom Cooper however, who is set to depart after the Pakistan series in any event. Cooper’s 37 last week was Kampong’s top score by a distance, while he and Cole Briggs were the only ones to make significant scores against Salland in their first match. While they have reason to feel somewhat aggrieved at how the format this season has treated them, their batting since the start of the second phase has not helped them either. On paper then another defeat looks likely if they can’t turn their batting around, but with only one team really needing the win there’s every chance this is the game they do it.

RL: Kampong’s real problem is that, a couple of supreme efforts against top sides notwithstanding, they have largely been unable to get the better of the main rivals in the relegation stakes. They have a useful attack, Alex Roy being to them what Van Vliet has been to ACC, but their batting has seldom produced when it really matters. Who Salland will bring to Maarschalkerweerd is, however, the Great Unknown, and should the answer turn out to be the B team then Kampong’s chances of taking the points they so sorely need will be great improved. The best they can hope for now is that play-off place against the Hoofdklasse champions, but even that is preferable to automatic relegation.

BdJ: The day’s final game sees Sparta 1888 take on VOC, and fair to say Sparta will be delighted with the timing. Unlike the other teams who have seen players called up for national duty, VOC have agreed to play on regardless. This is perhaps not unrelated to the fact that as of last week they are safe from relegation and thus for the Bloodhounds the match is a dead rubber. For Sparta the format has thus gifted them a chance to play what for them is a crucial match against arguably the strongest team in the bottom half while the latter is without their two top-scorers and leading wicket-taker. Now on a five-match losing streak, it may still be beyond Sparta to take advantage of their fortune, but with Ahmadi, Malik and Bukhari beginning to find some rhythm with the ball they have the attack to run through a weakened VOC.

RL: Much may depend here on how well Mudassar Bukhari comes back from the leg injury he sustained at Salland last week. That said, even his spinners were effective enough to capture three wickets, and the consequences for his batting are more likely to be an issue – although who would want to bowl to a Bukhari reduced to hitting fours and sixes? In the perennial, never-to-be-resolved debate about playing competition matches when the national team is otherwise engaged, too little weight tends to be given to the opportunity it offers for fringe first-team players to gain experience and state their case, and with VOC now safe and presumably beginning to think about next season, those who often have a minor role in the Topklasse side or seldom get picked at all will get their chance against Sparta to show what they can do. Even without Edwards, O’Dowd and Jain VOC have enough in their locker to prevail over an ailing Sparta, although their absence does indeed level the odds significantly.

BdJ’s picks: Dosti, Kampong, Sparta.
RL’s picks: ACC, Kampong, VOC.

VRA, Dosti win again as HCC beat Voorburg

Rod Lyall 15/08/2022

A fighting century by Peter Borren, the tenth of his twenty-year career in the top flight, and a strong defensive effort by the VRA attack carried the Amsterdam side to a 24-run victory over HBS Craeyenhout in the Amsterdamse Bos on Saturday, their second win in successioin keeping alive their faint hopes of reaching the final four.

Borren received little support from the rest of the VRA batting, stands of 73 for the fifth wicket with Aryan Dutt (31) and of 45 for the eighth with Mitch Lees apart, but when HBS began chasing their target of 225 the bowlers responded magnificently.

Dutt was especially disciplined, bowling five maidens in his initial nine-over spell and conceding just ten runs for the wickets of Reece Mason and Wesley Barresi, and then Vikram Singh chimed in, tearing through the HBS middle order and taking four wickets as the visitors were reduced to 69 for six.

Tayo Walbrugh, however, was still there, and Julian de Mey now joined him in a stand of 129 which brought their side back into the game.

But Udit Nashier, Jack Balbirnie and Borren himself all succeeded in restricting the boundaries so effectively that the asking rate kept rising, and when the batters began to accelerate it was Nashier who bowled De Mey for 59, initiating the final collapse which, although Walbrugh reached his fifth century of the season just before the end, saw HBS dismissed for 200 of the last ball of their 50 overs.

HCC, meanwhile, took full advantage of the HBS defeat with a 69-run victory over Voorburg at Westvliet which enabled them to leapfrog into second place on the table, greatly improving their chances of securing a double crack at reaching the grand final on 10 September.

A second-wicket stand of 147 between Tonny Staal (78) and Zac Worden (55) was the basis of HCC’s total of 224 for six, Boris Gorlee chipping in with a run-a-ball 31 and Viv Kingma the most successful of the Voorburg bowlers with three for 30.

Then seamer Felix Bennett, in only his sixth Topklasse match, ran through the powerful Voorburg batting line-up, taking six for 27 as the home side collapsed to 155 all out.

Bas de Leede again fought a rearguard action, making a 90-ball 57 and sharing a 72-run stand for the fifth wicket with Shariz Ahmad (35), but this time was on the losing side as Voorburg dropped their first points in the championship pool.

Yet another century by Jonathan Vandiar, his third in four innings, saw Punjab Rotterdam to 253 for five against Excelsior ’20 at Thurlede, Teja Nidamanuru making 37 and Sikander Zulfiqar 48 not out, and after three times failing to defend larger totals the Punjab bowlers returned to their winning ways as they dismissed Excelsior for 141.

Nidamanuru did the initial damage with a nine-over spell in which he took four for 22, and then Saqib Zulfiqar claimed three for 54, ending a dogged innings of 30 by Roel Verhagen, while Vandiar and Asad Zulfiqar combined to run out Brett Hampton, whose 30-ball 32 had been Excelsior’s last hope of a successful chase.

In the relegation pool, Dosti Amsterdam improved their chances of avoiding the two automatic places leading to next season’s Hoofdklasse with a six-wicket defeat of Kampong Utrecht at Sportpark Drieburg.

Waheed Masood took three for 25, Kuldeep Diwan three for 27 and Asief Hoseinbaks and Waqas Raja two wickets apiece as Kampong were dismissed for 112, Tom Cooper top-scoring with 37.

Raja then led the reply with 38, and Dosti needed only 21.2 overs to knock off the runs.

In a hard-fought match at Het Loopveld ACC got off to a remarkable start against VOC Rotterdam, Robin Smith (57) and Chris Knoll (69) putting on 111 for the first wicket at eight and a half an over, but the Rotterdammers were brought back into the game by Matt Smit, who removed both openers and finished with three for 53 and by the unlikely person of Scott Edwards, converted from wicketkeeper to spinner, who ran through the middle order to the tune of three for 33.

Siebe van Wingerden finished things off with three for 27, and ACC were all out for 226.

VOC were in trouble at 69 for four, 40 of them from the bat of Smit, but they were rescued by the depth of their batting, Tim de Kok making 44, Edwards (batting at six) contributing a quick 23, Corey Rutgers adding 32, and then Jelte Schoonheim, who had engineered last week’s victory over Kampong with a fine spell with the ball, hitting a 35-ball 59 not out to see VOC home by two wickets with six overs to spare.

At Het Schootsveld on Sunday Sparta 1888’s relegation woes deepened despite a much-improved effort with the bat, as they lost to Salland Deventer by three wickets in a harfd-fought game.

They were given a decent start by Craig Ambrose (31) and Raza Noor (43), and then Samit Gohil (32) and Mudassar Bukhari (23) took them on to 135 for two.

But once Bukhari, hampered by a leg strain, was dismissed, soon followed by Gohil, the wickets again began to tumble, the last eight wickets falling for 52 as they were dismissed for 187, Akhil Gopinath taking four for 34.

Some wayward bowling from Sparta aided Salland’s chase, but after Khalid Ahmadi had removed both openers Bukhari, bowling spin off a couple of steps, grabbed three wickets, and the game was evenly balanced with Salland on 129 for five.

They were rescued by a brisk 59 from Sahir Naqash, and although Ahsan Malik, who conceded just 22 from his ten overs, returned to remove Naqash and Gijs van Molen, Salland reached their target with more than ten overs to spare.

Now bottom of the table on points average and with a worse net run rate than their rivals, Sparta will need a radical reversal of form if they are to have any chance of avoiding the drop to the Hoofdklasse.

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.