Former Railways batsman and well known first-class cricketer Raja Ali passed away under tragic circumstances after suffering from massive cardiac arrest at his hometown Bhopal last night.
The 36-year-old left-hand batsman who was an important part of two Ranji Trophy and one Irani Trophy winning Railways squad didn't get any help from the onlookers who saw him writhing in pain and lying on the pavement of the famous VIP Road in Bhopal.
It was cops who discovered that a man was lying unconscious and rushed him to the hospital, but the former cricketer was declared brought dead.
Raja is survived by his wife and a three-year-old child.
The left-hand batsman had scored 4,337 runs in 87 first-class matches with nine centuries and 22 half centuries but will always be remembered for his contribution for Railways in the two finals that they won.
In the 2001-02 against Baroda, he scored 66 while he made 80 in the 2004-05 final against Punjab at Mohali.
Former India all-rounder J P Yadav who was with Raja till 11 O'clock feels that had the people who were travelling by been a bit more "sensitive", his "best friend wouldn't have met a tragic end."
"Actually, both of us went for a death anniversary function of an official of our former club. I was travelling on his bike. He dropped me near my residence and then left for his house. Then I learnt that he suffered a massive attack," Yadav told PTI over phone from his Bhopal residence.
"As he (Raja) understood that it was a cardiac arrest, he stopped his bike and lay on the pavement. VIP Road is a busy area and lot of people come for their evening walks after 10:30 pm. They saw a man lying there in pain but didn't come up for help. May be, if he could have been rushed to the hospital at the right time, he could have been saved," Yadav checked his emotions with great difficulty.
"It was the police who checked Raja's cell phone and last numbers he contacted and thus everyone was informed. I got the information at around 1:30am. For me, he was more than a brother," Yadav said.
Although Raja couldn't make the top-grade but he was a vital cog in Railways scheme of things from late 90's to the mid 2000.
"We used to call him Railway's 'Sankatmochan' (troubleshooter) as he would often rescue the team from precarious situation.
"If Railways were 100 for five, one could trust that Raja will try his best to take the team to 300. Myself, Sanju (Sanjay Bangar) and Raja were contemporaries. It will take some time for me to accept the fact that Raja is no more," Yadav said.
Raja played his last first-class game back in 2008, but he was active as coach-cum-player for West Central Railways.
As a mark of respect the players of the Central Zone team, which is playing the Duleep Trophy final against the East Zone, wore black armbands today.