Adeel Raja took a career-best 6-16 on his 200th Topklasse appearance as VRA recorded their first win of the season away at VOC, while Dosti extend their undefeated run with wins over ACC and Excelsior. Raja was one of four bowlers to get their career-best return over the weekend, with Quick's Asief Hoseinbaks taking 5-22 as Quick Haag defended a sub-par 170 at Excelsior, whilst Mark Jonkman and Jan-Wieger Overdijk took 6-13 and 4-17 respectively as HCC rolled Hermes for just 46 runs to set up a straightforward win at Harga.
A blistering hot Saturday morning saw all four home sides winning the toss and all four electing to bat, and soon enough all four were regretting the decision. Quick Haag found themselves quickly on the back foot at Nieuw Hanenburg when Excelsior skipper Tom Heggelman struck twice in his second over to remove openers Lesley Stokkers and Bob van Gigch, and then followed it up with four consecutive maidens as Rens van Troost and Gijs Kroesen profited from the pressure to remove Geert Mol and Wesley Barresi cheaply, leaving the hosts reeling at 27-4.
Ryan Cartwright led something of a recovery however, building partnerships with Tim Gruijters and Jeroen Brand to take Quick to 140-5 before being clean bowled by Gijs Kroesen for 56. Some late hitting from Brand got them as far as 168 before becoming Kroesen's third victim, Heggelman also picking up a third in the Stephen Kriel to finish with figures of 3-22-10 as Quick finished on 170-9.
It would prove to be just enough, thanks to Hoseinbaks' personal best Topklasse performance. Tim Etman and Lorenzo Ingram got the Schiedammers off to a steady start, putting on 55 for the second wicket to take Excelsior to 79-1, but Jeroen Brand accounted for both in consecutive overs and from then on the traffic was largely one way. Ryan Cartwright kept things tight at one end, conceding just 22 from his ten overs, and Hoseinbaks capitalised. He would claim a return of 5-22 from his nine overs as Quick's batsmen repeatedly succumbed trying to force the pace, eventually falling 13 runs short.
Quick would be the only side to recover from their poor start however, with Hermes DVS capitulating particularly swiftly against HCC. The early departure of Stephan Myburgh, caught by Jan-Wieger Overdijk off Mark Jonkman on the last ball of the first over, once again augured rapid collapse for Hermes. Haro Seelaar and Nick Statham managed to hold out for another 39 deliveries, but thereafter Overdijk and Jonkman ran amok, taking 4-17 and 6-13 respectively to skittle Hermes for 46. The game would be over before lunch. Despite Seb Braat striking first ball to remove Bart Kuipéri, HCC took just 9.3 overs to overhaul the target. Tonny Staal the only other batsman to fall having top-scored with 18.
Likewise ACC were likely having second thoughts about their decision to bat first against Dosti-United once Robbie Frylinck and Ahsan Malik had reduced them to 44-4. Despite grinding out almost 40 overs, there was to be no recovery for the hosts. Sikander Zulfiqar's 30 would be the highest score of the innings as ACC were bowled out for 90, Malik the pick of the bowlers with 4 wickets for just 9 runs.
Dosti managed to make a bit of a meal of what should have been a straightforward chase, losing Rahil Ahmed to a run-out early and somehow contriving to lose a further six batsmen in a pursuit of a two-digit target, Usman Malik claiming 3-28 as Dosti stuttered to 89-6. Even with just three needed the game looked-half alive, and had number 7 Ahsan Malik not been dropped first ball there might even have been some nerves in the Dosti camp, but a sweetly struck straight four next ball saw them over the line 26.5 overs.
VRA made similarly hard work of a less-than-monumental target to claim their first points of the season away at VOC, managing to lose six wickets chasing 115. That so little was required of them in the second innings was largely the work of Adeel Raja, who marked his 200th appearance for the club with a career-best showing with the ball. Dirk van Baren and Tim Ruyters had helped the hosts recover from the early loss of Jelte Schoonheim with a 45-run 2nd wicket partnership, eventually broken by Peter Borren clean bowling van Baren for 27, and Ruyters and Pieter Seelaar had put on another 36 for the third when Raja got into the game. Raja had Ruyters well caught by Eric Szwarczynski for a top-scoring 31, and the pair would combine three more times to the same effect as Raja bagged 6 wickets for16, four of them caught by Szwarczynski.
VOC would manage a mere 115 from 39.5 overs, but early wickets in the VRA reply gave them hope as Mitch Lees and Ruben van den Berg both went cheaply. The host's newly-arrived overseas player Jeandre Jumat looked intent on making up for his failure with the bat, claiming 4-12 in his ten overs, but it wouldn't be enough to deny VRA their long-awaited two points. Though Borren's 26 would be the top score of the innings, Quirijn Gunning was able to see the Amsterdammers home with an unbeaten 20 from number 8, with Raja fittingly with him at the end.
Sunday saw Dosti-United head back to Thurlede to replay their earlier rained-off encounter, and with cataclysmic rainfall overnight in Schiedam it's a testament to the Excelsior ground-staff that the game got under way a mere half-hour behind schedule. Again the home side won the toss, again they chose to bat, and again they were made to regret it as Etman, Verhagen and Ingram all went for single-figure scores. Skipper Tom Heggelman and Matt McGillivray steadied things with a 31-run partnership for the next wicket, and Joost Kroesen's rearguard 39 from 78, combined with some late fireworks from Adam Woutersen saw the hosts to 161-8, but that never looked likely to trouble the title-holders.
Rahil Ahmed's 41 from the top of the order set the foundation, and despite losing Vinoo Tewarie and Colin Ackerman cheaply, Dosti looked in a decent position at 90-2. The loss of Ahmed and Mudassar Bukhari in rapid succession did little to change the equation, and Stiaan van Zyl and Robbie Frylinck both struck unbeaten half-centuries as Dosti cruised home with 5 overs to spare.
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