Himachal Pradesh pacer Sidharth Sharma passed away in a private hospital in Vadodara late on Thursday.
The 28-year-old, who had been on the ventilator for the past two weeks, succumbed to multi-organ failure. He was airlifted to Chandigarh and later cremated in his hometown in Una.
A member of the Himachal Pradesh senior team, Sidharth last played against Bengal at the Eden Gardens in December and claimed a fifer in the first innings, and followed it up with a brace in the second essay.
He fell sick and was eventually hospitalised while travelling with the team to Vadodara for an away fixture against Baroda.
“It is unfortunate. He was fine and played the first two matches of the Ranji Trophy. Before the game against Baroda, he felt unwell and we got him admitted to the hospital. After a few tests, it was found that his creatinine levels were high. His kidneys and subsequently other organs were affected. The doctors tried their level best but could not save him,” Arun Dhumal, the former president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and current chairman of the IPL Governing Council, told Sportstar.
Dhumal was in constant touch with Baroda Cricket Association president Pranav Amin to ensure Sidharth received proper treatment. “In between, he had shown signs of improvement for a day, and we were quite hopeful that he would come out of it. But unfortunately, there were multiple organ failures,” Dhumal said.
Sidharth made his first-class debut for Himachal Pradesh in 2017-18 and had picked up 25 wickets in Ranji Trophy since then.
He featured in the Vijay Hazare Trophy - his first List A tournament - in 2021-22 and claimed eight wickets in six outings. He was part of the tournament-winning side.
“He was a very good prospect for the HPCA and it’s a big loss for the association, his family and everyone who knew him. He had lots of dreams, but unfortunately, we could not save him,” Dhumal said.
Sidharth’s old friend and HP teammate Prashant Chopra was with him in Vadodara. “The team had reached Vadodara on December 31. He was running a fever, so the team doctor asked him to rest up. When I joined the team the next day, he was still unwell and by the day after, he had started throwing up and his condition deteriorated,” Chopra said.
“By late evening, he was shifted to the ICU and by night, he underwent dialysis. He was conscious, and would constantly keep asking the team manager about the side. But during our match, we got to know that things worsened.”
The players ensured they rushed to the hospital soon after the match got over and stayed there till midnight. The practice continued for the next few days.
Chopra, who has known him for years, remembers him as a soft-spoken cricketer who enjoyed life.
“We would call him Love Charger - based on a popular song. He would often dance to this and thus everybody started calling him by that name. He enjoyed life but was serious about the game. When he made his Ranji Trophy debut, he was my roommate, but then, he was left out for a while. He made a comeback and played the most important role during the knockouts of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Jaipur. He played a key role in our title win,” Chopra said.
He would always remember Sidharth as someone who always wanted to improve his game. “Fitness was his criteria. Even when Vikram sir (Rathour) was our coach, he would tell him to work on fitness and he listened to him. He was good with length and was a very hard working guy. He would tell me, ‘ main flow mein daal deta hoon (I always deliver in a flow), so if you want me to make any changes, let me know.’ It is shocking news for all of us. He would keep the dressing room happy. He was a great team player.” Chopra said.
According to Chopra, Sidharth’s father was with the Indian Army and did not initially want him to play cricket, but he pursued the sport. “When he was in the ICU, he regained his consciousness but could not speak, so he asked the nurse to get him a piece of paper and wrote to his father: Mujhe cricket khelne se rok na mat. Mujhe khelne dena (Please don’t stop me from playing cricket). Our manager was there, and when he told us this, we could not hold back our tears.”
Unfortunately, Sidharth couldn’t make it back to the pitch to play his favourite sport again.
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