Excelsior reach final as ACC go out
If Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Dosti Amsterdam was galling for ACC, Sunday’s loss to Excelsior ’20 Schiedam, ending their hopes of claiming a title which had so narrowly eluded them last year, must have been absolutely devastating.
But for Excelsior, who had never quite fired all season and who had finished the round robin phase in fourth spot, their 7-wicket victory propelled them into next week’s final, and a showdown encounter with Dosti which could see them become the first side to claim the championship from the lowest of the play-off places.
Excelsior seized the initiative from the outset after Mohsin Ghaznavi won the toss and elected to bat, Seb Gokke removing Steven de Bruin with his first delivery, the seventh of the match, and their seam attack of Tom Heggelman, Gokke, Haider Khan, Julien Halkes and Brett Hampton never let up.
Graeme van Buuren made a patient, 77-ball 43 before Hampton had him caught behind by Marcel Schewe, and when the young New Zealander dismissed both Zulfiqar Ahmed and Ollie Lodder ACC were in serious trouble at 90 for six.
Zishan Akram, playing in place of the absent Mudassar Bukhari, led a partial recovery, sharing a stand of 64 with Ghaznavi, but then Heggelman returned to bowl the ACC captain for 20, and once Akram fell to Gokke for a splendid 46, made from 65 deliveries with two fours and a six, the innings closed on a comparatively modest 171 for nine.
Hampton claimed three for 22, Heggelman three for 26 and Gokke three for 46 in a fine display by the Excelsior seamers.
Stephan Myburgh immediately went after Ollie Lodder when Excelsior replied, smacking a six from his opening delivery and following it up with three consecutive fours, but Lodder had his revenge when Van Buuren caught the Dutch international off the final ball of the over for a rapid-fire 18.
Then left-arm spinner Maninder Kamboj took a hand, removing first Rudi Hillermann and then Heggelman, and at 36 for three Excelsior’s response began to falter.
That brought skipper Daan van Bunge in to join Fred Klokker, however, and ACC would enjoy no further success as the two former MCC Young Cricketers produced a match-winning, unbroken stand of 136 for the fourth wicket.
Van Bunge was the more aggressive, making 89 from 85 balls with nine fours and two sixes, while Klokker was content to play a supporting role, taking 74 deliveries for his 37. But Excelsior were under no real pressure, and they reached their target with more than 17 overs to spare.
Their win sets up what should be an absorbing final next Saturday with Dosti and Excelsior, whose last encounter ended in a tie, battling it out for the title.