Excelsior back on track as Hermes break their duck
Bertus de Jong
Wins for both Schiedam clubs meant Hermes kept their faint hopes of survival alive whilst Excelsior stay on course to retain the title. Dosti-United's failure to chase down a modest target against HBS meant they remain just 4 points ahead of Hermes at the bottom of the table, whilst VRA's win away at Quick cemented their position as sole challengers to Excelsior.
After VRA brought their winning streak to an end two weeks ago and Dosti gave them a scare last week, Excelsior put in a more convincing performance at Thurlede when they bested VOC by 87 runs. An 89-run partnership between Tim Etman and Lorenzo Ingram set a solid platform for the hosts. Etman would fall to Jelte Schoonheim, caught by Max O'Dowd for 65, but despite James Hilditch and Joost Kroesen also finding O'Dowd's hands swiftly after, Ingram pressed on with skipper Tom Heggelman to take them them to 224 before becoming O'Dowd's fourth catch. Heggleman pressed on with the tail and despite a late brace of wickets for Dirk van Baren saw his side to a competitive 256-7.
Heggleman followed up with the wicket of Schoonheim early in the VOC reply, and Caleb Jewell was run out shortly after to put the visitors on the back foot. Chris Free and O'Dowd added 78 for the third wicket to take them into triple figures, but thereafter the innings subsided rapidly, Ingram and Hilditch taking three wickets apiece as VOC cawere dismissed for 171.
Meanwhile at Nieuw Hanenburg VRA won a hard fought victory over Quick Haag to keep within four points of the top of the table, a 214-run partnership between Peter Borren and Eric Szwarczynski setting up a 34-run win. The pair came together with VRA in some trouble at 41-3, but both struck centuries in an accelerating partnership that turned that first blunted Quick's early initiative and then took the game away from the hosts. Borren dominated the scoring initially, bringing up his century off 91 balls and finally falling to Geert Mol for 128, a score that - remarkably - will actually drag down his average for the season slightly. Szwarczynski began in more circumspect fashion, but hit out late with support from Emile van den Burg to reach his century just before the close, having taken his side to 288.
The total was always likely to be a challenge, and the VRA pace attack found regular reward to keep the hosts pegged back, but a 121-run partnership between Geert Mol and Jeroen Brand for the 5th wicket threatened to put the hosts back on top. Fittingly it was Borren who broke that partnership, dismissing Brand for 65 with Quick still 68 adrift, and thereafter the wickets came regularly - Borren, Klaassen and Gul all finishing with 3 each as Quick were bowled out for 254.
That would be the only win of the day for an Amsterdam club however, as Dosti United and ACC both lost out in low-scoring affairs against HBS and Punjab respectively. Keeper-coach Zakir Kathrad and former skipper Usman Malik were the only ACC batsmen to offer serious resistance as Punjab's attack ran through them for 140. Malik briefly gave the Amsterdammers hope as he claimed three quick wickets to reduce Punjab to 17-3, but only one more wicket would fall as Punjab cruised home with 9 overs to spare.
Dosti meanwhile spurned a chance to secure their survival in the top flight when, having skittled HBS for 160 they managed only 94 in reply. Wahid Masood and Taruwar Kohli took three each after Dosti had invited HBS to bat as the visitors slumped from 100-2 to 160 all out in less than 38 overs. Dosti's chase began inauspiciously when Berend Westdijk took two wickets in the first over, and never really recovered. The wickets kept coming with increasing regularity, Julian de Mey wrapping up the tail taking the final four wickets in succession and Dosti were left to rue a missed chance at safety.
Their worries will be compounded by Hermes DVS struggling to their first win of the season away at HCC. Having knocked over their hosts for a mere 103 - Manminder Singh the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 8 - the sky blues contrived to lose some 8 wickets as they stumbled over the line. Openers Singh and Myburgh both went for single figure scores, as did Dan Ter Braak to give the hosts hope, but Nick Statham's 39 saw them to 72 in the 24th over with six wickets remaining. It fell to Olivier Elenbaas to get the job done, hitting an unbeaten 24 even as wickets continued to fall at the other end. He was in the company of his younger brother Ralph at number ten by the time he finally struck the winning four, claiming the first points for his side after 12 matches.
The win means Dosti still have reason to worry. With just four points separating the sides, their encounter at Drieburg in two rounds time could yet prove decisive.