Hermes beat ACC to take share of lead
Hermes-DVS Schiedam claimed a share of the top spot after Sunday’s Topklasse matches, inflicting a first defeat on leaders ACC and gaining a crucial advantage over their closest rivals for a position in the play-offs.
Behind them, the battle became a shade more intense, with victories for Excelsior ’20 Schiedam and HCC, but a defeat for defending champions VRA Amsterdam at the hands of promoted side Dosti Amsterdam, whose ground at Sportpark Drieburg threatens to become an uncomfortable place for the leading sides.
ACC went into their key clash with Hermes without international allrounder Mudassar Bukhari, who had been forced to leave the field the previous week because of a nagging back injury. Hermes, on the other hand, welcomed back Erik Hartong for the first time this season and former international Ruud Nijman, who missed the whole of last season after sustaining a horrific head injury playing hockey.
It was player-coach Greg Todd, however, who caused the early damage to ACC after the home side had won the toss and elected to bat, removing father-and-son opening combination Zulfiqar Ahmed and Saqib Zulfiqar and then bowling François Le Clus to reduce the home side to 10 for three.
Hartong chipped in to remove Rehan Younis with the total on 38, but Steven de Bruin stood firm at the other end, and he and Graeme van Buuren rebuilt the innings with a fifth-wicket stand of 95. Van Buuren completed his third half-century in four Topklasse innings, and with De Bruin eventually departing for 71, his highest score in the top flight, and Ollie Lodder contributing a valuable unbeaten 34, ACC closed on 204 for seven, with Todd taking four for 29.
After Mohsin Ghaznavi and Zulfiqar Ahmed claimed early wickets in Hermes’ reply, Van Buuren continued to demonstrate how crucial a player he is for ACC’s chances, taking a return catch to remove Renzo Borrani for 25 and bowling Jasper Beijer to put the visitor in some difficulty at 122 for five.
But Nick Statham and skipper Pieter Seelaar added 73 in a vital sixth-wicket partnership, and by the time Van Buuren removed both of them, for 50 and 45 respectively, only 10 runs were needed for victory. It was, fittingly enough, Nijman who finished it off with a four over cover to complete the win with ten balls to spare.
A superb unbeaten 128 from player-coach David Wiese – his second in the Topklasse and his third of the season overall – enabled Dosti to pull off a shock three-wicket victory over VRA, as the home side chased down a reasonably substantial total of 224.
The champions were without Tom Cooper, who has joined the Australian A squad, and were soon in trouble as Amol Uniyal removed both openers by the time 15 was on the board, and Vimal Tewarie dismissed Matthijs Luten without addition to the score.
The powerful VRA middle order restored the situation, however, with skipper Peter Borren to-scoring with 77 and sharing a 73-run sixth-wicket partnership with Atse Buurman. Barry Rhodes again made a useful contribution with 42, while for Dosti Victor Grandia not only claimed his 250th wicket in the top flight as he took three for 45, but had the pleasure of doing so against his old club.
Grandia had less success with the bat, falling to Berend Westdijk before he had scored, and Mohammad Hafeez had the same fate as the Dosti top order again failed to come off. Mohammad Wasim (32) shared a 71-run stand with Wiese and Uniyal contributed 26, but nobody else reached double figures and the Dosti innings was dominated by another fine display from Wiese as Dosti reached their target with six-and-a-half overs in hand.
Excelsior consolidated their position in the top four with a decisive victory over a struggling VOC side, who remain without a win at the foot of the table.
Rudi Hillermann and Brett Hampton, both of whom took three for 23, were the destroyers as the Rotterdammers were dismissed for 135, only player-coach Wade Townsend, with 54, showing any real resistance.
With international opener Stephan Myburgh giving his side a great start with 44 Excelsior raced to the win in just 26.4 overs, as Daan van Bunge guided his team home with an unbeaten 42. Timm van der Gugten was again among the wickets with three for 30, making him the leading wicket-taker in the Topklasse at this stage of the season.
Quick Haag also struggled with the bat against HCC at Nieuw Hanenburg, but it was the spinners Cameron Borgas (three for 22) and Rassie van der Dussen (three for 24) who had the best figures after the new ball combination of Mark Jonkman and Reinier Bijloos had broken through the top order, Jonkman taking the crucial wicket of Amol Muzumdar.
Captain Henk-Jan Mol was the top scorer for the home side with 26 and James Gruijters made 23 not out, but he eventually ran out of partners as Borgas and Van der Dussen ran through the lower order.
Van der Dussen then made a solid 107-ball 66 to cement HCC’s win, although he was caught behind off Edgar Schiferli with victory in sight. Logan van Beek and Daniel Voskamp finished things off and HCC won by three wickets with 21 deliveries to spare.