Mathemagic

As Sachin made history,an 80-yr-old fought to ensure he saw it.

Written by Nihal Koshie | Published:March 16, 2012 12:15 am

It had been eight overs since Sachin Tendulkar had got into the 80s. Photographers buzzed around the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium,trying to find preferred vantage points to capture the big moment. However,as Bangladeshi bowlers suffocated the batsmen,Tendulkar batted very cautiously. Simultaneously,Al-Haj Mohammad Zahirul Haque gasped for easy breath.

As Tendulkar entered the 90s in the 39th over,the photographer clutched his stomach,breathing heavily and sweating profusely.

With the world waiting for Tendulkar’s hundredth hundred since March 12,2011 — when he had scored the 99th against South Africa in the World Cup — Haque personified just what the batsman’s fans were willing to put themselves through for a ‘I was there’ moment.

The 80-year old had ignored poor health and climbed a flight of steps lugging a camera and tripod to get to the highest point at the ground. Now,when it seemed imminent at last,Haque wasn’t going to let ill health come in the way.

The veteran photographer wanted to shoot the moment from a unique angle. So ignoring diabetes and a history of hypertension and acidity,he had slipped out of the photographers’ designated area.

Everything was ready — the focus,the camera — when that pain in the stomach hit Haque. He struggled to find his balance and a five-minute bout of vomiting followed.

The doctor on call at the stadium,someone Haque had consulted once before,rushed to his aid. Seeing his blood pressure and heartbeat,the doctor suggested Haque be rushed to a hospital immediately. The doctor feared a cardiac arrest given Haque’s condition coupled with the anticipation of Tendulkar’s milestone.

But as Tendulkar launched into Shahadat Hossain to move into the mid-nineties in the 40th over,a very ill Haque decided to ignore the doctor’s advice. With the help of three volunteers,Haque got back to his seat. With an ambulance on alert and the volunteers now helping him steady his camera,Haque now again readied himself for the 100th run.

His breathing had eased by the time Tendulkar guided a Shakib-Al-Hasan delivery to square-leg to bring up the landmark. Haque clicked away and then studied the frame on his digital camera. Only after he was satisfied did Haque allow the anxious doctor and the volunteers to help him into a waiting ambulance.

With over 40 years in the profession,Haque isn’t new to witnessing history. Now doubling up as a special correspondent for a Kolkata-based daily,he was one of the photographers attached to the office of the founding father of Bangladesh,Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — the father of current prime minister Sheikh Hasina. However,today,Haque was clear,was something special.

Soon after Haque had left the building,Tendulkar got out. It was a 147-ball 114.

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