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Manzarul Islam becomes youngest Test cricketer to die

Manzarul Islam (left) played six Tests and 25 ODIs for Bangladesh © AFP
Manzarul Islam (left) played six Tests and 25 ODIs for Bangladesh © AFP

On March 16, 2007, Manzarul Islam, the Bangladeshi all-rounder died in a car accident at the young age of 22. Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits those events and how the Bangladesh team paid tribute to their former teammate.

As Bangladesh prepared for the ICC World Cup 2007 in the Caribbean, nobody gave them a chance of going through to the next round. After all, India and Sri Lanka were expected to trounce them and Bermuda to move into the super-eights. But, there was some quiet confidence in the Bangladeshi side as they prepared for their encounter against India at Trinidad, slated for March 17. However, a day before their first game, they were shocked by the devastating news of the death of their former teammate Manzarul Islam.

On March 16, 2007, Manzarul and his teammate from Khulna Division Sajjadul Hassan were on a motorcycle in Khulna. Manzarul was then involved in a fatal collision with a bus that killed him and Sajjadul. At the age of 22 years 316 days, Manzarul had become the youngest Test cricketer to die. Australian Archie Jackson had died at 23 years of age. Bangladesh cricket had lost one of its bright young prospects who was on the road to a comeback to the national side.

Manzarul made his international debut in a One-Day International (ODI) against England at Chittagong in 2003. He was a left-arm spinner, one of the many seen in Bangladesh, and a useful batsman. On debut, he fought hard for 18 off 60 balls and then had Michael Vaughan stumped when he came onto bowl first change. It was his very first over and Manzarul had an auspicious start to his bowling in international cricket.

In his fourth ODI, he was promoted to open the batting and responded with an innings of 68 against Zimbabwe. Later on, in the West Indies, his spell of three for 21 in the first ODI nearly fashioned a remarkable victory. On the tour to Zimbabwe, he also made his Test debut, without a lot of success. He did impress a bit more with the bat though.

However, Mazarul’s Test career fizzled out and his innings of 69 against India at Dhaka in late 2004 was the only major highlight. But, the biggest moment of his career came in the one-day series in January 2005. With Zimbabwe leading 2-0 going into the third ODI, his spell of four for 34 helped Bangladesh win. And in the fourth ODI, he took four for 36 to help Bangladesh level the series. Ultimately, they went on to win the fifth ODI and won the series.

However, Mazarul only played eight more ODIs, the last of which came in 2006. He had played his last Test in December 2004. He was then sent back to domestic cricket. The emergence of Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan also pushed him back further as they formed ideal backups to Mohammad Rafique.

However, days before his death, he was in the Bangladesh A side and played England Lions. In a game against them, he took three for 38 and scored 34 not out in a victorious cause. In his last First-Class game for Khulna Division, he took a match haul of nine wickets. And, the next day, he met his unfortunate end.

However, on the other side of the world, Bangladesh fought the sorrow and shocked India on March 17, which ultimately led to their ouster from the tournament. And, they duly dedicated the victory to their friend!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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