Excelsior saw out a 5-wicket win after skittling Dosti-United for just 88 to go one-up in the best-of-three finals series. Roel Verhagen's 46 saw the visitors to a comfortable win at Drieburg after the Excelsior bowlers had koncked over Dosti inside 31 overs.
Rens van Troost did the early damage with the new ball after Dosti had elected to bat, removing Rahil Ahmed and Rifaiz Bakas in the space of three deliveries to reduce the hosts to 4-2. Vimal and Vinoo Tewarie put on 49 for the third wicket to stabilize things, but after the former was caught off Sohail Bhatti for a gritty 9 from 34 balls things went swiftly downhill for the defending champions.
Vimal was run out in the following over for 28, which would turn out to be the host's top score as a rapid collapse ensued. Bhatti removed Mohammad Hafeez in the next over, before van Troost returned to claim another two wickets as together with Lorenzo Ingram he mopped up the lower order, the two finishing with 4-20 and 3-16 respectively.
The Excelsior chase was punctuated by regular wickets, Verhagen was the only batsman to reach double figures for Excelsior, but by the time he was stumped of Mahesh Hans he had taken his side to within 18 runs of victory. Hans would strike twice more to remove Joost Kroesen and Tom Heggelman but could not prevent the inevitable, Marcel Schewe and David Woutersen seeing them over the line with 19.1 overs to spare.
The win puts Excelsior in the driving seat when the teams meet again at Thurlede on Saturday, though the rumoured return of Stiaan van Zyl and Colin Ackermann means there's still every chance for the title holders to force a decider.