ACC, Dosti try for a third time as Excelsior waits in the wings
ACC and Dosti Amsterdam will make a third attempt to play their Topklasse semi-final at Het Loopveld West on Saturday, and if the weather again refuses to co-operate they will return once more on Sunday.
Excelsior ’20 Schiedam, meanwhile, are waiting in the wings, ready to take on the losers of that semi-final in an elimination final which will decide who gains the right to play off for the championship. That match will take place on Sunday if the semi-final is completed the previous day.
Dosti ‘s batsmen gave as impressive a display as we have seen all season when they seized the initiative last Saturday, and their total of 226 for three in 38 overs was probably worth 300+ over a full innings, making an attack which is always especially threatening at home seem comparatively ordinary.
The top four of Rahil Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim, David Wiese and Amit Uniyal all came off at the same time, and it must have been enormously frustrating to see that magnificent position, all the stronger once ACC had been reduced to 20 for two, turn out to have been in vain.
The weather prospects for this weekend are a little more promising and it must be hoped, not only that both games will be completed in order to allow the championship final to go ahead as planned on 8 September, but that the contests will not be distorted by constant interruptions and D/L recalculations.
ACC, it must be remembered, has been the most consistent side in the competition over the past two seasons, and coach Anton Roux will doubtless be keen to insist that what happened last week is firmly in the past. The seam attack of Mudassar Bukhari, Mohsin Ghaznavi, Ollie Lodder and Zulfiqar Ahmed, backed up by the spin of Graeme van Buuren and François Le Clus, is capable of much better efforts than they produced last Saturday.
Their task will be a great deal easier, moreover, if the rumours which were circulating last weekend, to the effect that Wiese is unavailable this time, turn out to have been correct. But that, to be honest, is anybody’s guess.
With Wiese in the team, Dosti have proven that they are capable of beating any side in the competition, and even without him they have plenty of both batting and bowling, and another overseas allrounder in Amit Uniyal who can both trouble opposing batsmen and take a rival attack apart.
ACC’s batting does not, perhaps, have quite the same depth, but with Van Buuren averaging 63.29, Bukhari 45.00 and Le Clus and the greatly-improved Lodder both 35.67, they have players more than able to post a reasonable total. Steven de Bruin and Bas van der Heijde have been less consistent, but have played valuable innings on occasion during the season.
The loser of this match will need to pick themselves up pretty quickly if they are to beat Excelsior in the elimination final and earn a rematch against their conquerors.
Excelsior’s top five all got a decent start against VRA last week, and with Duckworth/Lewis working in their favour their total of 189 for five in 43.2 overs proved to be enough to withstand a spirited challenge from Peter Borren and Eric Szwarczynski.
The match turned into a personal triumph for veteran former international Seb Gokke, whose career-best five for 24 rivalled Julien Halkes’ five for 19 against VOC earlier in August. With these two and Haider Khan supporting a front-line seam attack of Brett Hampton, Rudi Hillermann and Tom Heggelman, the Schiedammers have the bowling resources to trouble either of the Amsterdam sides, and one should not write off the possibility that they will achieve the feat of claiming the championship from fourth place in the round-robin table.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Hermes-DVS Schiedam will be looking to strengthen their grip on fifth place when they entertain Quick Haag at Sportpark Harga, while relegated side VOC Rotterdam will be at home to HCC.
Tips for Saturday: HCC, Hermes-DVS, Dosti. And after that, who knows?