Whatever clouds of controversy might be swirling about them, VOC Rotterdam played as if they did not exist on Saturday, as they cruised to a ten-wicket victory over Sparta 1888 and into the semi-finals of the Dutch T20 Cup.
Former international Ahsan Malik struck two early blows, including the very important wicket of Garnett Tarr, but it was Max O’Dowd’s spin which ran through the middle order, removing danger-men Ali Raza, Mudassar Bukhari and Mamoon Latif, and finishing with four for 23.
Then Jelte Schoonheim cleaned up the tail, claiming three for 13 in three overs, and Sparta were all out for 97.
Corey Rutgers and Max O’Dowd needed only 8.2 overs to knock off the runs, with Rutgers making 43 from 31 deliveries and his partner 40 from 22, including two fours and three sixes.
It was a very different story for Cup holders and four-times winners VRA Amsterdam, who travelled to Deventer on Friday evening, only to lose to Hoofdklasse side Salland by 67 runs.
Without three regular first-team players, the Amsterdammers restricted Salland to 137 for seven, skipper Victor Lubbers making a 34-ball 44 and his brother Reinder an unbeaten 29; Udit Nashier took three for 16 for VRA and Leon Turmaine two for 38.
But they were soon in trouble at 19 for four when they replied, with Vikram Singh, Mark Andrew, Zamaan Khan and Peter Borren all back in the dug-out, and Akhil Gopinath’s four for 13 ensured that they never really recovered.
They did, indeed, barely get halfway to their target, and were all out for 70 as Salland became only the second Hoofdklasse side in the past decade to reach the finals day.
Topklasse leaders Punjab Rotterdam qualified for the semi-finals for the first time since 2017 with a 57-run victory over Excelsior ‘20 at Thurlede.
After an excellent start, Steph Myburgh (25) and Rehmat Zulfiqar (33) putting on 60 for the first wicket six and a half overs, Punjab reached 148 for nine, leg-spinner Joost Kroesen slowing their progress with three for 29 and four wickets falling in the space of eight deliveries without addition to the score in the 18th and 19th overs.
If the momentum appeared to be with the Schiedammers at the break, Punjab soon seized it back, Suleiman Tariq dismissed Tim Etman with the first ball of Excelsior’s reply, and Tariq and Teja Nidamanuru kept the brakes on as wickets fell at regular intervals.
Seamers Mubashar Hussain, Sikander Zulfiqar and Sohail Bhatti all kept the scoring around three an over, and although young Stan van Troost top-scored with 21 not out Excelsior ended on a disappointing 91 for seven.
The highest-scoring of the quarter-finals was at Craeyenhout, where ACC reached 160 for six, only to see HBS surpass their total for the loss of two wickets with 20 deliveries to spare.
Sahil Kothari’s 33-ball knock of 61, including three fours and five sixes, was the core of ACC’s innings, after Shreyas Potdar and Anis Raza had given their side a decent start, but partnerships of 82 between Tobias Visée (58 from 24 deliveries, with four fours and five sixes) and Tayo Walbrugh (45 not out from 41) and then of 73 between Walbrugh and Wesley Barresi (47 from 32) took HBS to the brink of victory.
The finals day will take place at VOC’s Hazelaarweg ground on 28 August, with the hosts meeting Salland in the first semi-final and HBS Craeyenhout taking on Punjab in the second.
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