Dutch Twenty20 Cup moves up a gear
The tempo of the new Dutch season accelerates considerably this weekend, with further rounds of the Twenty20 Cup on Friday evening and Sunday, meaning that some sides will have played four matches in as many days.
The pick of Friday’s T20 ties is probably Dosti Amsterdam’s encounter with VRA at Sportpark Drieburg. Dosti ran up 216 for two last week against Voorburg, thanks to a fine allround effort by player-coach David Wiese, but they will need to be at the top of their form if they are to match a VRA side which will be keen to recover quickly from last Sunday’s 10-run defeat at the hands of HCC.
Also in Group A, two of the more successful Hoofdklasse sides – both of whom still have a chance of making it to the finals day – will meet at Westvliet, where Voorburg will take on Rood en Wit Haarlem. This has the makings of a hard-fought battle, with the loser effectively out of the hunt for a place in the semi-finals.
And at De Diepput, HCC will meet Kampong Utrecht, currently winless at the bottom of the Group A table. With their three overseas stars, Rassie van der Dussen, Cameron Borgas and Logan van Beek, the home side should have few difficulties in claiming the points, and Kampong will need a big contribution from player-coach PJ van Biljon if they are to push their Topklasse opponents hard.
The most interesting of the Group B fixtures on Friday pits undefeated Excelsior ’20 Schiedam against HBS Den Haag at Thurlede. The Hoofdklasse side has done pretty well so far, but they will need to be at their best, with overseas players Brad Barnes, Grant Elliott and Shane Deitz performing well again, against an Excelsior side which is among the favourites for the Topklasse title as well as for the Twenty20 Cup.
In the final match of the Friday evening programme, FC Amsterdam United travel to Capelle aan den IJssel to take on Sparta 1888. Yet to post their first win, the Amsterdammers will be hoping that they are able to build on their experience so far to post an improved performance against a Sparta side whose only win to date was against Punjab Rotterdam.
Next door neighbours in Den Haag, Quick Haag and HBS will both be hosting double-headers on Sunday.
Having lost their opening match to Hermes-DVS Falcons, Quick will know that they can’t afford any more slip-ups, but while they will be favourites against Punjab Rotterdam in the early game, Excelsior are much more intimidating opponents. These two sides met on Thursday in the Topklasse, Excelsior winning by 26 runs, but Quick did well enough to give them encouragement, especially with home advantage this time.
HBS have an equally tough second match against the Falcons: they should be too strong for Sparta 1888 in their early game, but with New Zealanders Greg Todd and Mark Craig leading the way with the bat and Sebastiaan Braat and Pieter Seelaar both among the wickets, Hermes-DVS have thoroughly deserved their position at the top of the Group B table.
In the remaining Group B game on Sunday, VOC Rotterdam are at home to FC Amsterdam United, and although they have not had a good start to the competition it would be a major shock if the Bloodhounds were to lose this one.
In Group A on Sunday it will be the turn of Dosti Amsterdam and HCC to host the double-headers, and having started their campaigns later than their rivals both clubs will be keen to use the opportunity to reinforced their claim to one of the top two spots.
Dosti face ACC for the second time in four days in their early game, and they will be determined to give a better account of themselves with the bat than they were able to do – Rahil Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez apart – at Het Loopveld West on Thursday.
Rood en Wit Haarlem will also not be a pushover: although the two sides passed each other, as it were, on the escalator between Topklasse and Hoofdklasse, the Haarlemmers have a good mix of overseas experience and home-produced younger talent, and with Shahbaz Bashir always a dangerous force they will be out to claim their second Topklasse scalp of the competition, having beaten ACC on the opening day.
HCC will be reasonably confident of beating two more Hoofdklasse sides in Bloemendaal and Voorburg, and of moving a couple of steps closer to a place in the semi-finals. Bloemendaal have only posted one win so far, and lost heavily to VRA last Sunday, but Voorburg have had a more successful campaign and are more likely to prove competitive against HCC, although it would be a major upset if they were to take the points.
VRA Amsterdam have what should be the easiest Group A fixture of the day, taking on Kampong Utrecht at home. Having overpowered Hoofdklasse opponents in Rood en Wit and Bloemendaal in previous rounds, the title holders may well have net run rate in their minds after their defeat by HCC last week.