Wins for Excelsior'20 and Quick Haag over Dosti and ACC set up a show-down next week to decide the second Topklasse finalist, whilst wins for VRA and VOC over Hermes and HCC leave three teams level on ten points at the bottom of the table.
Dosti-United had already secured their finals berth ahead of the playoffs, but their loss at home to Excelsior '20 means that pole position is not yet guaranteed. Having lost the toss and been invited to bat by the visitors, Rahil Ahmed and Vimal Tewarie put together a promising 48-run opening stand before both fell in quick succssion to Gijs Kroesen. From then on Excelsior took control of the match, Mohammad Hafeez dug in to get the hosts to triple figures at a funereal rate, and Mudassar Bukhari's 42 from number 5 lifted the total somewhat, but regular wickets kept the run rate in check, and when McGillivray took 3-25 roll up the tail with 5 balls remaining the hosts had managed just 151.
Excelsior looked to take their time making the runs, skipper Tom Heggelman's 127-ball 56 anchoring the chase, Lorenzo Ingram supporting with an equally languid 46 from 110. When Ingram was trapped LBW by Aziz in the 39th with 39 still needed it seemed like they might have left themselves too much to do and Ahsan Malik Malik duly compounded that feeling by dismissing Heggelman and Joost Kroesen in the space of three balls. With five overs remaining and 23 still to get the game suddenly hung in the balance, with three conceded off Aziz's next over it seemed Dosti were on top. David Woutersen took nine of Malik's next however, including an imperious six over mid-on, only to fall next over to Aziz. It was enough to tip the balance however, and McGillivray and Rens van Troost closed out the match with 7 balls to spare.
Quick Haag kept pace with their rivals for the second spot with a six wicket win over ACC at Nieuw Hanenburg despite a career best unbeaten 90 from Asad Zulfiqar. After losing three partners early as ACC stuttered to 48-3, Zulfiqar dug in and together with JP de Villiers took the visitors into triple figures. Having compiled a meticulous if unspectacular fifty over the course of the first 40 overs of ACC's innings, Zulfiqar then cut loose in remarkable style. With support from de Villiers and Mangi Mosehle, Zulfiqar plundered another 40 runs to add to his persnal tally as ACC put on 96 in the final ten overs. Despite Stephen Kriel dismissing de Villiers and Mosehle for 68 and 22 respectively, Zulfiqar carried the bat through the innings, ending up just 10 short of a century as ACC posted 211-5.
It would not prove to be enough to deny Quick however, who looked entirely untroubled throughout the chase. Wesley Barresi and Bob van Gigch put up a brisk 98-run opening stand, and when Barresi was caught off Ahmad Zulfiqar for 38 van Gigch pressed on with Tim Gruijters, adding another 55 for the second wicket before being bowled by the same bowler for 74. By then Quick were well on top at 154-2, and Geert Mol and Gruijters put up another 50 partnership to take them to the brink of victory, even as Malik cycled fruitlessly through his options, ACC eventually calling on nine different bowlers including keeper Mosehle. Two late wickets for Saqib Zulfiqar, Gruijters and Mol both falling at the last, did little but defer Quick's celebrations as the hosts closed out a six wicket win with ten overs to spare. The defeat puts ACC definitively out of the running for a finals spot, whilst Quick and Excelsior's fixture next week effectively becomes a semi-final.
Cycling freely through bowlers was likewise a theme at the other end of the table, where VRA took on Hermes-DVS at Harga. Having won the toss and elected to bowl, the visitors found immediate reward with the usually decisive wicket of Stephan Myburgh, who fell for one in Freddy Klaasen's first over. It fell to Nick Statham to step into the gap, and his 157-ball 88 provided most of the resistance as VRA skipper Peter Borren gave everyone but Emile van der Burg and keeper Mitch Lees an outing with the ball. It was the combination of Eric Szwarczynski and Bilal Ahmad that would prove the most effective, taking 2-25 and 3-39 respectively, though a counterattacking 30-run partnership from Verveij and Venter down the order saw the hosts to what looked a competitive 184.
It was, however, soon made to look most uncompetitive by Mitch Lees. Presumably aggrieved to have been overlooked for bowling duties, Lees took out his frustrations on a hapless Hermes attack in quite spectacular fashion. Things might have looked rather bleak for the visitors when they lost van der Berg and Szwarczynski for 4 and 2 respectively, had Lees not by then already racked up 66 runs at the other end. After a somewhat scratchy start, Lees unleashed a torrent of pent-up runs, smashing 10 fours and 4 sixes as Myburgh cast around for solutions, finally landing on keeper Bart Schilperoord. Schilperoord would have Lees caught 8-runs short of his century having made 92 off 59 and taken the score to 139. Max O'Dowd would continue where Lees left off however, hitting 47 off 38 before falling to Venter in th 24th over with 13 still needed. Schilperoord would see Adeel Raja on his way in the next over, finishing pick of the bowlers with 2-12, but Borren and Klaasen would wrap things up with 23.3 overs to spare.
The win takes VRA onto ten points, where they were joined by HCC, who threw their hat into the ring for the wooden spoon by losing at home to VOC. The hosts had looked well on top for much of the match, winning the toss and swifly knocking over the VOC top-order, Floris de Lange and Mark Jonkman claiming two early wickets each as VOC stumbled out of the blocks to 29-4. Reinier Bijloos kept the pressure on the visitors, removing Dirk van Baren and Maarten van Ierschot in succession to reduce VOC to 86-6. Pieter Seelaar was still there however, grinding out a rearguard innings of 78 off 121, and together with skipper Bobby Hanif put on another 74 before holing out off the last ball to give Jonkman his third wicket, VOC finishing on 160-7.
Hanif finished unbeaten on 29, and continued the good work with the ball as he trapped Kuiperi and Kloppenburg LBW to reduce HCC to 7-2. Hidde Overdijk and Jonathan Vandiar rebuilt, adding 58 for the third wicket but both would fall to Dirk van Baren, whilst David Cohen chipped in with the wicket of Tom de Grooth to leave the match evenly poised at 5-88. The HCC lower-middle order fought back, as Jonkman built partnerships with Itagi and Gorlee to get he hosts as far as 137, but from what looked a winning position they would collapse in short order, Hanif removing Gorlee and Jumat and Seelaar spinning through the tail, the last four wickets falling in the space of just six runs as VOC claimed a 17-run victory. The result leaves the bottom of the table interestingly poised, with none of the four sides technically safe from relegation, and HCC, VOC and VRA level on ten points with two games to play.