Orange Lions overpower Leicestershire
The Netherlands extended their lead at the top of the Clydesdale Bank 40 League Group A table on Monday with a comfortable 43-run victory over a Leicestershire side which has yet to post a win in the competition.
In their first visit to Grace Road in 21 years, and their first ever for a competition match, the Orange Lions were in record-breaking mood, achieving their highest-ever total against county opposition with a morale-boosting 304 for three.
This included a maiden List A century from opener Michael Swart, who hit a 100-ball 102, with five fours and three sixes. Not for the first time, he was outscored early on by the aggressive Stephan Myburgh, who made 37 from 27 deliveries before he was run out looking for an impossible single.
Then Swart added 152 for the second wicket with Tom Cooper, breaking the record established by Myburgh and Cameron Borgas against Worcestershire earlier this season, and a new best stand by the Dutch for any wicket in this competition.
Swart accumulated steadily in the first part of his innings, his half-century coming off 63 balls, but then he cut loose, and the second fifty took him a mere 31. Cooper’s 68, culminating in a four and a six from successive deliveries before a skied a return catch to Josh Cobb, came from 67 deliveries.
When Cooper departed the Dutch were on 229 for three with 6.1 overs left, and almost immediately Borgas and Mudassar Bukhari took their powerplay, proceeding to add 49 in four devastating overs. Borgas raced to 61 from just 33 balls, while Bukhari contributed a 15-ball 23 as the Netherlands passed 300 for the first time in their CB40 history.
Leicestershire were going to have to post a CB40 record of their own if they were to overhaul this target, but their reply got away to a terrible start when, after Timm van der Gugten opened with a wide, Cobb stepped inside his second delivery and was bowled round his legs.
Ramnaresh Sarwan, deputising for Matthew Hoggard as captain, now shouldered the responsibility of digging his side out of this hole, and in company with Jacques du Toit the West Indian international added 91 for the second wicket in fifteen-and-a-half overs. Du Toit was the more aggressive of the pair, but when he had made 48 he was trapped in front by Peter Borren.
Leicestershire’s new signing Michael Thornely fell to Borren in his following over, and when Greg Smith was superbly caught by Cooper off Pieter Seelaar’s bowling the home side were 130 for four, still needing 175 with barely 17 overs left.
Sarwan had reached his half-century from 49 deliveries, and gradually he and Wayne White began to quicken the tempo. They took their powerplay with eleven overs remaining, and unleashed a savage attack on Bukhari and Swart which yielded 52 runs – three more than even the Dutch had been able to manage.
The assault carried Sarwan to his eighth one-day hundred, and by the end of the powerplay Leicestershire had reached 210, still a long way short but with the acting captain in full cry a lot closer than had at one stage seemed probable.
It was a moment of brilliance from Borgas, throwing down the stumps from side-on as Sarwan took a very sharp single, which ended the 80-run partnership, Sarwan departing for 115, made from 89 deliveries with nine fours and a six.
Ned Eckersley and White continued to take advantage of anything loose, smacking three more sixes before they were dismissed in the space of three balls from Swart, Eckersley bowled and White, on 32, holing out to Borren.
The wicket of Claude Henderson three overs from the end gave Swart a three-wicket haul to go with his century, and the Leicestershire innings closed on 261 for nine. The margin was perhaps rather less than it should have been, but it had been a commanding performance from the Dutch, and one which kept them on course for a place in the CB40 semi-finals for the first time.