They say that the definition of a great team is that they win even when they’re playing badly. Defending champions Excelsior ’20 may not be a truly great team, nor are they playing really badly, but they have undoubtedly demonstrated an ability to go on winning even when they’re not firing on all cylinders.

On Monday, with Roel Verhagen sidelined by a toe injury and Rens van Troost unable to bowl, they were dismissed by HCC for an extremely modest 157, exactly 100 of which came from Lorenzo Ingram, who came in at 4 for one, saw his side reduced to 76 for eight, and more than doubled the total in company with Gijs Kroesen and Sohail Bhatti, who contributed just 18 between them but survived long enough to see 81 added to the score.

Mark Jonkman had run through the Excelsior middle order, taking four for 20 in his ten overs, and Olivier Klaus was again among the wickets with three for 35.

It was a target that should have been well within HCC’s grasp, but with Jonathan Vandiar making only 11 before he was bowled by Bhatti and Tonny Staal top-scoring with 26, the Hagenaars again fell short, and were bowled out for 138.

Bhatti finished with three for 22, while veteran keeper Marcel Schewe, pressed into service in the absence of Verhagen, claimed two catches, a stumping and a run-out.

The win kept Excelsior four points in front at the top of the table, their nearest challengers HBS Den Haag by virtue of their comfortable 131-run victory over VRA Amsterdam.

The highest of the day’s four centuries came from HBS’s Jaron Morgan, whose run-a-ball 115 was instrumental in seeing his side through to a demanding 251 for seven. With skipper Tobias Visée still out of action his stand-in Ferdi Vink also took over his opening pinch-hitter role, and got the innings moving with a solid 38.

It was Morgan, however, who really blunted VRA’s threatening attack, while Ali Ahmed chipped in with an unbeaten 38 after the Australian had departed.

Berend Westdijk, back from injury, claimed two early wickets when VRA replied, and the home side were never really able to get their response moving. Young opener Vikram Singh again impressed, top-scoring with 28, while Peter Borren made 27, but Farshad Khan, after demolishing Hermes on Saturday, ran through the tail this time and took four for 28, bringing his tally for the season to 20.

In the mid-table scrimmage Quick Haag moved ahead of ACC with a nine-wicket victory at Nieuw Hanenburg.

ACC suffered for Saqib Zulfiqar’s decision to bat first, as first Mohammed Khan ripped through the top order with a ten-over spell in which he claimed four for 25, and then Henk-Jan and Geert Maarten Mol and Thijs van Schelven kept the visiting batsmen firmly shackled in conditions which scarcely encouraged uninhibited strokeplay.

Sikander Zulfiqar (26) and Usman Malik (36) managed to put together a stand of 63 for the fifth wicket, but even they had difficulty in keeping the scoreboard moving, and once Zulfiqar was run out the tempo slowed even more.

There were no fewer than 218 dot balls in the innings, and ACC were dismissed for 123 in the last of their 50 overs, Geert Maarten Mol taking three for 10.

Chasing such a low total Wesley Barresi and Lesley Stokkers were able to cut loose after a couple of cautious overs, and although he tried eight bowlers Saqib was unable to find a way of stopping the flow of runs.

The opening pair put on 113 before Barresi finally holed out for a run-a-ball 56, and Stokkers wrapped it up two overs later, finishing on 60 not out from 66 deliveries.

Dosti United stayed in touch with the pack by beating VOC Rotterdam by five wickets at Hazelaarweg, thanks to an unbeaten 94 from Taruwar Kohli.

Opener Caleb Jewell’s 101 was the basis of VOC’s total of 212 for eight, with Max O’Dowd contributing 28, while for Dosti the ever-reliable Mohammed Hafeez took three for 32.

Kohli, assisted by 30 from Rahil Ahmed, timed the Dosti response to perfection, however, and the Amsterdammers reached their target with one over to spare.

Hermes-DVS came the closest they have been all season to posting their first win, but failed by just ten runs to overhaul Punjab Rotterdam’s total of 212 at Zomercomplex.

The highlight of the Punjab innings was a second-wicket stand of 136 between Yasir Ali (100) and Ahsan Masood (52) but no-one else was able to manage double-figures as Dan ter Braak claimed four for 32 and Olivier Elenbaas and Davy Verweij picked up two wickets each.

Stef Myburgh began the Hermes response with a somewhat less frenetic opening, but after he was run out for 41 it was left to Ter Braak (66) and Sebastiaan Braat (41) to try to keep the chase on track.

34 were still needed from three overs when Ter Braak was eighth out, but although Elenbaas did his best with a 13-ball, unbeaten 19, he and Verweij were unable to close the gap, and Hermes remain pointless at the foot of the table.