Time heals wounds, but not for Mehrab Hossain. It’s been 16 years since the Raman Lamba incident and it continues to haunt Mehrab. It was in February 1998 in a local league match between Abahani Samsad and Mohammedan Sporting when his shot struck Lamba on a bare forehead and the Indian batsman died after three days.
The incident is fresh in the mind of the former Bangladesh batsman. “Lamba was one of the professionals from India. I was playing for Mohammedan Sporting and he was playing for Abhani. These were the top teams in Bangladesh,” recalled Mehrab.
“It was the last over before lunch. I was batting at No 3 and had scored 21 runs. Lamba was fielding at covers. Suddenly, he came to short-leg. A spinner was in operation and dropped one very short. I hit the ball with the full face of the bat. The next moment Lamba was on the ground. I thought it was a painful blow but when he did not get up, I knew something was seriously wrong. The ball hit him on the forehead. The umpires, captain and the wicketkeeper had suggested he should wear the helmet. Lamba probably took it lightly because it was the last ball before lunch. He only put on his abdomen guard. ‘It’s the last ball before lunch and it doesn’t matter.’ These were his last few words,” said Mehrab, replaying the incident.
Mehrab was in shock for weeks. “I did not move out of my house. My family and friends supported me and told me I was not at fault. After that incident, I started dreading a pull shot or had a sense of fear whenever there was fielder at short-leg. I still remember Lamba. He was a wonderful friend.” After the accident, Mehrab made it a point that nobody stood at short-leg without a helmet.
Mehrab made history in 1999 when he became the Bangladeshi to score an international hundred. “It became big news. I still have those happy memories,” he said. It was in a tri-nation tournament against Zimbabwe.
The left-hander, who played nine Tests and 19 ODIs, has happy memories of meeting Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. “My relationship with Ajay Jadeja, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid was very good. Jadeja was a good friend, but Tendulkar and Dravid were wonderful persons.” What mesmerisded Mehrab about Tendulkar was his focus and his preparation for every match.