As an all-rounder, Manzarul Islam Rana had the rare ability to win matches for be it the national side, a club or his divisional team. Being the match-winner is the ultimate tag for a cricketer but Rana's speciality was not just his abilities as a left-arm spinner, useful batsman, agile fielder or a good strategist but his humane sides beyond the game that made him stand apart.
We all get sad when we see that a caring soul like him is not around with us any more. It's a void that always haunt us when great souls die and we remember them not just as a performer.
Being a left-arm spinner this reporter has always idolised the soft-spoken man from Khulna and it is still fresh in my memory about his strong recollection of events.
"You got me twice in two seasons, didn't you?" he asked me after I had trapped him leg-before during a Corporate League match in Fatullah. As I struggled to find good areas to bowl at my first division side's nets a few months later, he would ask me to bowl slower and that I should always work on finishing my follow-through.
Just two days before his death, he wanted to take me and a few other teammates for a walk around the lake to calm us down after our fifth successive loss but later we decided to have tea outside the Dhanmondi ground.
"Never ever bow down" and "Cricket ends with the day. Tomorrow is a new beginning" were just some of the words I recall from that day. But most of us, CCS players, knew that he was one of those cricketers who hated to lose but he was also one who recovered from a loss very fast and moved on.
Teammates of Rana though, have not moved on. Some, like former captain Habibul Bashar still finds it hard to believe that he is not around.
Rana would be among the few in a team who cared about teammates. Say, one youngster is missing his parents; Rana would be the first to realise his trouble and make sure of the player's well being.
He would make sure the players understood the foreign coach's instructions properly if they struggled to understand the language whenever he camped at BKSP with the national or A side.
He led a very simple life in Khulna, where the local cricketers doted on him. There are numerous players who were provided breaks in Dhaka by Rana. And he would not just fix them clubs. He would make sure they are comfortable in training and in the houses they were residing in.
He could speak in accents of Rajshahi, Sylhet and Chittagong and always had that smile in his face that made his untimely death even more painful for those who were near him.
As a match-winner, he was vital for Abahani, Khulna and whenever he played for Bangladesh, he wanted to perform. The man played 25 ODIs with a fifty and two four-wicket hauls. The fifty was during Bangladesh's win over Zimbabwe and the two bowling efforts were man-of-the-match performances against the same opponents at home to level the series which Bangladesh won 3-2.
It won't be a bad idea to name a pavilion after him and Sajjadul Hasan, the talented batsman who was with him in the motorcycle when Rana lost balance and an oncoming truck hit him. How about a memorial in that very same place or even a museum with all his cricketing belongings?
His last match read an unbeaten 89 and two wickets for Boyra Tarun Club. Another man-of-the-match performance and another win.
He passed away on this day last year, in a road crash with Sajjadul Hasan. After the Tigers conquered India in a World Cup match on the same day, it was supposed to be one of the happiest days in this country's history but the day shall forever be remembered when the cricket world lost a wonderful man.