In the end, it was too easy for Rajshahi Royals. Both the squads were balanced and packed with stars, but Dhaka Platoon just looked out of sorts on the given day.
The fixture was intriguing and it promised fire pitted against fire but ultimately it was a one-sided affair where Rajshahi reigned supreme and picked up a victory by nine wickets.
Dhaka were out of the game from the start as they kept losing wickets on a regular basis since the second over when Tamim Iqbal was sent back. Their tactless running between the wickets and sloppy batting ensured that even after a couple of dropped catches, Rajshahi managed to restrict them for a meagre 134. They would have been bundled out for even less, only for a cameo from skipper Mashrafe Mortaza took them there.
In reply, Rajshahi always had the game in their hands. Liton Das and Hazratullah Zazai put up a 62-run opening stand to give them a great start, and an unbeaten stand between Zazai and Shoaib Malik ensured a nine-wicket win for the northern side.
This match marked Dhaka captain Mashrafe Mortaza's return to cricket as the Bangladesh ODI skipper did not take part in any cricketing activity since the World Cup in England and Wales. But he could not make his return a remarkable one as he remained wicketless.
Rajshahi skipper Andre Russell won the toss and invited Dhaka to have a bat first. Russell's decision seemed to be the right one as Dhaka kept on losing wickets during their innings and crawled towards their score of. Dhaka's main trouble came from their running between the wickets as they lost three of their wickets to run-outs.
Dhaka hoped for a good start and it looked like that when Anamul Haque and Tamim Iqbal hit a six and a four off Abu Jayed Chowdhury. But their progress was thwarted even before it blossomed as Abu Jayed struck back to send Tamim back to the hut.
Dhaka could have been in even more trouble if it was not for Alok Kapali, who dropped Laurie Evans at first slip off Russell, letting go of a glorious opportunity to put Dhaka in deep waters.
But Kapali redeemed himself in the last over of the powerplay as Evans played a shot alike to Tamim's, and found the veteran allrounder at cover-point to hand Farhad Reza his first wicket of this BPL.
Dhaka managed to score 41 in the powerplay but also lost a couple of wickets which put them in a tight spot.
Alok Kapali was on the receiving end of a catch drop when Farhad Reza missed a sitter at the long-on boundary after Anamul had chipped the ball in the air.
Dhaka were in a good position when Anamul along with Jaker Ali Anik put up a 39-run stand to take them to 78-2, but a flurry of wickets saw them lose four wickets for five runs. Jaker was the first to go as he was run out trying to steal a quick single, and then Thisara Perera was out off Taijul in the same over when Russell took a good catch at short mid-wicket.
Anamul was the next to follow as he dragged a short length delivery from Alok Kapali straight to Minhajul Afridi at the deep mid-wicket boundary before Afridi got dismissed for a golden duck when he attempted a loose shot to a wide Ravi Bopara delivery, only to gift Liton Das with an easy catch.
Ariful was the next to go back as he and Mahedi tried to take a cheeky single, only for Bopara to hit the stumps directly at the bowler's end to reduce Dhaka to 91-7.
Wahab hit the ball out of the park to bring up Dhaka's hundred, but another run-out saw Mahedi sent back to the pavilion as Dhaka lost their eighth wicket.
A brief cameo of 18 off 10 balls from Dhaka skipper Mashrafe, with help from Wahab Riaz's 19 off 12, made sure that Dhaka reached 134 which was a fighting total at Mirpur.
Chasing a relatively small target of 135, Rajshahi started the innings with a flyer as they scored 47 runs in the powerplay where Liton Das exhibited a flurry of brilliant shots.
62 runs came from Rajshahi's opening stand before Liton was caught at short third man attempting a lofted inside out drive for 39.
Shoaib Malik walked in at no.3 and started to milk runs straight away. He, along with opener Hazratullah Zazai, kept the scoreboard ticking and the asking rate always in touching distance.
Zazai accelerated in the latter part of the innings when he hit Shahid Afridi for back to back sixes and brought the asking rate below run-a-ball. Zazai picked up his fifty off 45 deliveries with a four off Wahab Riaz.
These two ensured that Rajshahi reached the target without losing any more wickets to secure an easy win to launch their BPL campaign.
Zazai was unbeaten on 56 with Malik was unbeaten on 36. Mahedi Hasan picked up the only wicket for Dhaka.