Though the split between the top and bottom four has been clear for a couple of weeks already, there's still plenty to play for in the final round of Topklasse matches ahead of the playoff phase.
Dosti-United could potentially seal their place in the final with a win over ACC at Drieburg, (though as it stands only an improbable string of results including a tie between Excelsior and Quick in the playoffs could deny them at this stage) whilst ACC need a win to keep their hopes of a finals spot alive. The hosts will be missing Shawn Walsh and Jim Dukker, however, who are on duty with the Under 17s for ICC Europe Division 2, whilst Dosti are strengthened by the return of Hafeez to the Netherlands and Mudassar Bukhari to full bowling fitness. Coming off the back of a heavy loss to their other Amsterdam rivals VRA last week, it's hard to see ACC denying Dosti the assurance of another Topklasse final.
Who joins them in the final will depend in no small part on what happens at Thurlede on Sunday, when third-placed Excelsior '20 look to go level with second-placed Quick Haag, who they currently trail by just 2 points whilst a victory for Quick would see them head into the playoffs needing just one win from three matches to take second place and set up a rematch of last year's final. Excelsior have only dropped two home games all season, however, whilst Quick's early season dominance has faltered somewhat, losing three of their last four games. The two teams will face off in a T20 quarter final the evening before the game, but the 50 over follow-up may prove just as decisive.
Meanwhile HCC and Hermes-DVS will look to put distance between themselves and the bottom of the table when they meet at de Diepput, with a win for HCC leaving them all but safe from relegation heading into to playoffs. Hermes will be without Oliver Elenbaas on Sunday owing to Under 17s commitments, and still look almost entirely reliant on their top three batsmen for runs. Barring Statham and Myburgh repeating their effort from last week, home advantage should carry the day.
But though there's no dead games scheduled for Sunday, the rest of the day's matches look like mere bumps compared to the dogfight at the pit of the table, VRA facing VOC in what looks increasingly like the second round of a relegation rumble. It was VOC who couldn't cross the scratch line in the last encounter, when Adeel Raja starred in VRA's 3-wicket win, and another loss would see VOC enter the playoffs at the bottom of the pile, level with VRA on 8 points but 0-2 down on head-to-head. Neither can VRA afford to curr out, a loss would leave them over the barrel heading into the playoffs, likely needing three wins from three to survive.
VRA will be without Quirijn Gunning, who's ankle injury during warm-downs after last Saturday's match against Quick will likely keep him out for the rest of the season, and though Fred Klaasen and Saadiq Mahmood did an excellent job with the new ball against ACC the hosts are once again looking a bowler light. Nevertheless, with Eric Szwarczynski still making runs for fun and Peter Borren coming off a two-century weekend, VRA look a stronger outfit than they have all season. VOC will not be rolling over without a fight however, with Pieter Seelaar in form with the bat and fellow spinners Baker and Jumat doubtless looking forward to VRA's grass wicket, the battle of the Bos looks too close to call.
Topklasse Round 14 Predictions:
Dosti-United vs ACC : Dosti
Excelsior '20 vs Quick Haag : Excelsior
HCC vs Hermes-DVS : HCC
VRA vs VOC : Tie