New Delhi: Sometimes, cricket becomes a matter of life and death; literally. 14-years-ago on February 23, Indian cricket lost one of its jewels. On this day, U.P. player Raman Lamba suffered a fatal blow to the head while fielding at short leg.
Raman was playing at Dhaka's Bangabandhu Stadium when his career, and his life came to an abrupt end.
Lamba was playing in the Dhaka Premier League for the Abahani Krida Chakra team. On February 20, 1998, Lamba was in the field against Mohammedan Sporting, when Abahani captain Khaled Mashud asked him to field at the short leg.
Left-arm spinner Saifullah Khan was bowling the last over of the day and for the last three deliveries Mashud asked Raman to man the short leg position. It appears Mashud had enquired from Lamba if he wanted a helmet to protect himself, but Lamba joked it off saying it was just a matter of three deliveries.
Mehrab Hossain was on strike and he cracked a shortish delivery from Saifullah right into Lamba's head. The impact was such that the ball ricocheted off Lamba's skull into wicket-keeper's gloves. While everyone celebrated the fall of wicket no one noticed that the blow had knocked Lamba out.
Mashud and other players rushed to him and picked him up, enquiring if he was okay. Lamba laughed it off saying he was fine, and even walked all the way to the dressing room. But collapsed upon reaching there.
He was rushed to the hospital where doctors diagnosed a clot in the left portion of his brain. Without wasting any more time, they operated upon him immediately. But the surgery couldn't do much to the depleting condition of Raman Lamba.
Word was sent out to his family in Delhi. His wife and his two little kids were rushed to Dhaka.
On February 22, Raman was declared clinically dead. His wife permitted doctors to take him off life support on February 23.
Lamba's death became a lesson for other cricketers, and those who dream of playing this game. Ignoring what is otherwise a routine precaution proved too costly for the cricketer who lived for the game. And died for it too.