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Even at his acceptance speech after leading Bangladesh to their first Under-19 World Cup cricket title on Sunday, skipper Akbar Ali didn’t make a single reference about playing through the pain of losing his beloved sister during the tournament. Rather, he played a true ambassador of the game by apologising to the Indian camp for any excess that his teammates may have indulged in due to adrenalin rush in a tense final.
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Bangladesh Under-19 skipper Akbar Ali lost his beloved sister during the tournament.
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If the sport of cricket brings out strength of character in a performer on the field, there are any number of examples which has seen fortitude at it’s best off it in times of such personal loss - and the list includes no less than the likes of a Virat Kohli, then only 18, Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan batsman Asif Ali or Naseem Shah - the tearaway who became the youngest bowler to claim a Test hat-trick against Bangladesh on Sunday.
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During the tour of Australia last May, debutant Naseem lost his mother in Pakistan but he fought through the emotions and said he was ready to play the Test match against the ‘Baggy Green.’
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Nothing, of course, was as heart-rending that Asif Ali, the low profile Pakistan batsman who lost his two-year-old daughter to blood cancer after a prolonged treatment in the US last year. Asif, who left midway in the England tour, rejoined the squad once again - seeking solace in the other passion of his life to get over this unbearable tragedy.
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The story of Kohli, the master batsman and Indian skipper, and Tendulkar are too well documented for any cricket fan. A teenager Kohli was the overnight unbeaten batsman for New Delhi in a Ranji Trophy match when his father Prem Kohli - then only 54 - had a massive heart attack and passed away. It was on his mother’s insistence that ‘Chiku,’ as Kohli was nicknamed, went back to resume his innings and played a match-saving innings of 90 against Karnataka.
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The image of Tendulkar looking towards the sky - soon after scoring a century against Kenya in 1999 ICC World Cup in England after his father’s death also remains etched in the cricket fan’s memory. The ‘Master Blaster’ had to rush back in India after receiving the news of his father and was too crestfallen to take part further in the showpiece - till his mother coaxed him back to the ‘call of the nation.’
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