Dhaka Warriors playing under the banner of Bangladesh XI wasted a wonderful opportunity of ruling the World stars at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad yesterday.
Making their debut in the ICL World Series, Habibul Bashar's men were nicely placed to topple World XI's 167-6 in the slam bang Twenty20 competition when they raced to 61 in just six overs.
But a stunning middle-order collapse that saw the Bangladesh side losing six wickets for 16 runs irrevocably turned the match on its head and despite some power hitting by the tail-enders they lost the game by 12 runs.
The Warriors were off to a rollicking start with opener Nazimuddin hitting former Australian paceman Jason Gillespie for successive sixes during his 11-ball 22. Aftab Ahmed started from where Nazimuddin had left off hammering 29 off 17 balls.
But the game changed rapidly when the man in form Alok Kapali was out to former South African all-rounder Lance Klusener's first over, mistiming an attempted pull straight to the throat of Ian Harvey at short mid-wicket.
His dismissal actually sparked the collapse for no good reason on a wicket that was as true as it could get. Batsmen appeared and then disappeared quickly hitting innocuous deliveries straight to a fieldsman and the Warriors, who were at one stage looking great at 75-2 suddenly found themselves in deep trouble with 90-7.
An ageless Mohammad Rafique, who had earlier bowled beautifully and picked up three wickets for 20 runs and that too with the new ball, scored a fighting 20. Another left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain also batted well down the order. He scored an unbeaten 28 but the Warriors could not catch up with the ever increasing run-rate despite two sixes from number ten batsman Tapas Baisya.
The Warriors needed 24 runs in the final over but could mange 11 runs only.
Klusener stole what easily could have been a Rafique show with a virtuoso all-round performance.
The left-hander hammered an unbeaten 63 off 49 balls to give the World XI a competitive total. He was also responsible for Warrior's middle-order collapse, claiming three wickets for 18 runs in his four overs. He actually picked up two wickets of successive delivers brining a broad smile on the face of his captain Chris Harris.