While proceedings in Scotland were hampered by rain, the Dutch Topklasse had no such bad luck over the weekend.
A superb third-wicket stand of 196 by overseas player Garnett Tarr and former Dutch international Mudassar Bukhari for Sparta 1888 against VOC Rotterdam on Saturday enabled the Capelle side to reach 316/8, 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 Topklasse 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 120/1, but the last nine wickets fell for just 58 runs as Voorburg fought back, Philippe Boissevain taking 4/38.
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 fellow South African 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 3/15. Julian de Mey and Ryan Klein set the tone, however, with 2/14 from ten overs and 1/7 from seven respectively.
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