VRA reach the Topklasse play-offs as HCC walk off against VOC Rotterdam

There were unsavoury scenes at De Diepput, though a VRA veteran capped off his 300th top-flight appearance with an important victory.

Dutch T20 winners VRA
Dutch T20 winners VRA (Photo: Sander Tholen)

Among the many scenarios leading into Sunday’s final round of Topklasse league matches, no-one could have predicted the regrettable scenes at De Diepput, where HCC walked off amidst allegations of a racial slur, apparently forfeiting the match to VOC Rotterdam and thus surrendering their chance of reaching the top four.

16 and a half overs of the VOC innings had been bowled when the match came to a premature end, but the incident may have had its origins in the fifth over, when a lifting delivery from Hidde Overdijk caught the shoulder of Dirk van Baren’s bat and flew into the gully.

The home side were convinced they had their man but Van Baren stood his ground, and after a consultation between the umpires he was given not out.

There was some compensation for Overdijk a few minutes later when Max O’Dowd, trying to work him to leg, got a leading edge and speared an easy return catch.

Van Baren continued in company with Scott Edwards, but when he edged a boundary off Reinier Bijloos to move to 22 and to take the VOC total to 45 for one, words were exchanged between keeper Yash Patel and Van Baren which ignited the blaze, causing the umpires to intervene in an attempt to cool tempers.

Patel, however, remained apparently furious, and after a conversation with two of his teammates he took off his gloves and left the field, followed by the rest of the players and the officials.

After almost 25 minutes the umpires returned to remove the stumps, and word came through that HCC, in support of Patel’s stand over what they said was a racist comment, had refused to continue.

Under the Topklasse playing conditions it would appear that VOC should be awarded the points, while HCC could also be liable for a two-point penalty; the KNCB Board issued a statement on Monday, declaring the Bond’s condemnation of racism in all its forms and stating that the Match Referee (Rob Kemming) had launched an investigation of the incident.

This result would in any case see HCC drop out of the top four, but the final standings were also dependent on events elsewhere, and especially at Thurlede, where VRA Amsterdam, level on points with VOC before the final round, were playing Excelsior ‘20.

Fielding a makeshift side which saw former national captain Luuk van Troot, who had played his last Topklasse match in 2015, and Adam Woutersen come out of retirement, Excelsior were nevertheless in charge for the early exchanges, reducing VRA to 72 for six before Jack Balbirnie (45) and Leon Turmaine (41 not out) turned things around with a seventh-wicket stand which more than doubled the total.

Umar Baker eventually dismissed Balbirnie to finish with three for 34, but VRA had given themselves a chance with a total of 176 for seven, much better than had appeared likely early on.

Skipper Tom Heggelman, opening the innings for Excelsior, saw Tim Etman trapped in front by Quirijn Gunning off the first ball of the reply, but he batted doggedly on as wickets fell around him.

The total was only 71 when he was the seventh to go, having made 30, and it was left to Luuk van Troost, who had earlier claimed two for 37 in VRA’s innings, to see the score past the hundred, making 24 in a total of 106 before he was the last man out.

His wicket fell to VRA skipper Peter Borren, playing his 300th top flight match for VRA, who has led his side back from an apparently hopeless position to third place in the table, nudging just ahead of VOC on net run rate and securing a home semi-final next week.

Already sure of topping the table, Punjab Rotterdam completed their league programme with a surprisingly hard-fought victory over ACC at Het Loopveld.

That Punjab posted the highest total of the day with 214 for five was due in part to Steph Myburgh’s 42, but even more to an unbroken sixth-wicket stand which featured contrasting innings from Saqib Zulfiqar and Yasir Usman.

Coming in at 74 for three, Zulfiqar anchored the rest of the innings with an 82-ball 53 not out, while Usman needed only 42 deliveries for his unbeaten 48, hitting two fours and three sixes and just missing out on what would have been a notable half-century.

ACC had their customary difficulties with the scoring rate when they replied against the steady Punjab attack, but Shreyas Potdar’s 37 and Ammar Zaidi’s 26 gave them a platform from which Anis Raza (44) and Aryan Kumar (25) were able to give their side an outside chance of victory.

Both were removed, however, by Suleiman Tariq, and ACC were finally dismissed for 184, 30 runs short, with ten deliveries remaining.

Punjab’s semi-final opponents will be Voorburg, who remained in second place despite losing to HBS Craeyenhout by 28 runs.

Voorburg appeared to be in complete control when they dismissed their opponents for 130, Bas de Leede taking three for 21, but they then collapsed in their turn, losing their last eight wickets for 35 runs as they slumped to 102 all out.

Stephan Vink took three for 12 in nine overs for HBS, with two wickets apiece for Ryan Klein, Julian de Mey and Sander Geenevasen.

At Sportpark Drieburg, Dosti Amsterdam ended their long losing run with a 31-run victory over ten-man Sparta 1888.

Waheed Masood top-cored in a Dosti total of 164, Martijn Snoep taking four for 51 for Sparta, but Asief Hoseinbaks’ four for 29, including the vital wicket of Garnett Tarr, turned the match decisively the home side’s way.

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