Kolkata: A pall of gloom descended on the Kolkata Maidan after the tragic death of talented Bengal batsman Ankit Keshri who passed away this morning owing to a cardiac arrest after a head injury sustained during a Cricket Association of Bengal's Senior one-day knock-out match on April 17.
Ankit Keshri. Pic/PTI
Youngest of the three siblings of a tea stall owner Raj Kumar in Paddapukur, the East Bengal opening batsman was not even in the playing XI but as fate would have it, Keshri had replaced Arnab Nandi in the previous over before the fatal collision with Sourav Mondal in their match against Bhowanipore at the JU second campus ground in Saltlake.
Fielding at sweeper cover, Keshri rushed to take the high catch even as left-arm pacer Sourav Mondal too ran on his follow through. Mondal's knee hit Keshri's right side of the face, just below the ear in the freak accident. From West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar (in twitter) to former India captain and local hero Sourav Ganguly to BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, everyone was in shock at the tragic death that brought back the memory of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes who died after being hit by a bouncer on his neck in November last year.
In a deep shock, Mamata stayed out of the body kept for last homage at the East Bengal tent and chose to observe about 10 minutes silence before offering her condolences to the bereaved family. Keshri's body was first taken to Eden Gardens where all the CAB officials along with BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya offered their last homage, as the young cricketer's father was seen crying inconsolably.
"He was definitely an India prospect and we got government job offers. I'm just not able to look at him... I lost my everything," Raj Keshri, who runs a tea shop with Ankit's elder brother Deepak, said. IPL Governing Council member and CAB secretary Subir Ganguly, on his way to New Delhi for a GC meeting, came to know of the shocking news at the airport and he immediately cancelled his ticket and headed for the Nightingale Hospital at Shakespeare Sarani.
"Sourav (Ganguly) had left early but I was to go at 10am but after I came to know about this I immediately cancelled ticket and returned," the devastated Subir Ganguly told PTI. As soon as the news of Keshri's death trickled in, present, former and upcoming Bengal cricketers made their way to the hospital in the morning and tracked the cricketer's last journey.