Superb Wasim century steers Dosti to Topklasse final
The weather gods relented at last in Amstelveen on Saturday, and ACC and Dosti Amsterdam responded with a see-sawing Topklasse semi-final which provided some excellent cricket and an innings of the highest quality from Dosti opener – and former Pakistan Test batsman – Mohammad Wasim, who guided his side into the championship final at the first time of asking.`
It was a match worthy of the final itself, and there is a real possibility that the same sides will meet again next week to decide the title. But that depends on the outcome of Sunday’s game between ACC and Excelsior ’20 Schiedam.
Dosti captain Shafiek Panchu won the toss and invited the home side to bat first, and his new ball pairing of Amit Uniyal and Vimal Tewarie played their part by keeping the ACC top order in check through the initial phase of the game.
Tewarie induced Rehan Younis into a false stroke which provided a catch for Mohammad Hafeez at point, and when François Le Clus was run out by a smart return from David Wiese, ACC were on the back foot at 35 for two. Three runs later Tewarie trapped Steven de Bruin in front, not playing a shot, and the trouble threatened to become serious.
But Mudassar Bukhari now joined Zulfiqar Ahmed at the crease, and these two gradually turned the innings round with a fine 111-run stand for the fourth wicket. They began steadily, as Panchu brought himself into the attack for the first time this season and bowled a very tight spell in partnership with Hafeez, but they increased the tempo as the partnership developed, Bukhari in particular going after anything loose.
Wiese finally bowled Zulfiqar for a 71-ball 44, but Bukhari went on to 73, made from 100 deliveries with three fours and two sixes, before he was bowled by Uniyal. That made it 183 for six, and with Bas van der Heijde and Ollie Lodder pushing on in the closing overs ACC managed to reach 213 for seven – a reasonable total on this ground, especially with a holding outfield, but one that would look distinctly vulnerable if Dosti’s top order performed as they did in last week’s abortive match.
ACC’s bowlers, led by Bukhari and left-arm spinner Maninder Kamboj put on the brakes in their turn, and although Dosti’s openers, Rahil Ahmed and Wasim, gave their side a decent start with a stand of 49, it took them 17 overs to do so.
Ahmed eventually lost patience and was caught at fine leg off the bowling of Graeme van Buuren, and when the menacing Wiese was caught off the same bowler for just three, it seemed that ACC might be beginning to get on top.
Wasim, however, was in ominous form, timing his strokes to perfection and batting with great patience, and he and Mehmood Sadiq now added 83 for the third wicket, laying the foundation for a successful run-chase.
It was again Van Buuren who secured the breakthrough, trapping Sadiq in front for 36, and a middle-order collapse followed, Uniyal, Hafeez, Mohammad Rafi and Tewarie all returning to the pavilion by the time the total had reached 175.
But Wasim remained unperturbed at the other end, even though the required rate had climbed towards seven an over and there were now only three wickets left, and when Zulfiqar returned to the attack the opener launched a sudden, decisive attack, smacking a six and two fours as he took sixteen off five deliveries and brought up a magnificent century in the process.
He was given valuable support by Ehtesham Chaudhry Mohammed, and when the latter eventually edged Van Buuren to keeper De Bruin, giving the South African left-armer his fourth wicket at a final cost of 43 runs, only nine more were required for victory.
Panchu joined Wasim, and when the final over started just five were needed. Panchu took three from Van Buuren’s first ball, deprived of a boundary which would have levelled the scores by a desperate dive by Le Clus at long off, but Wasim finished it off by hammering the next ball over long off and into the shrubbery, ending on an unbeaten 115.
It was less than four months ago that Dosti had opened their inaugural Topklasse campaign with a comprehensive defeat at the hands of ACC, but now a greatly-improved and altogether confident side had returned to propel themselves into the final. Whoever they meet next Saturday and wherever the match takes place, they will on the basis of this performance, and those they have produced in recent weeks, start as entirely deserving favourites.