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Hareesh Gangadharan (33) collapsed on the field while playing for his Green Island club side at Sunnyvale on Saturday after suffering an apparent medical event.
Despite the frantic efforts of players, spectators and emergency services he could not be revived, and died on the field.
He leaves his wife, Nisha Hareesh, and their 3-year-old daughter, Gowri, along with friends, teammates and colleagues, who were baffled by the fit and healthy man’s sudden death.
Members of his second grade Green Island club side gathered with family at his Mosgiel home yesterday, comforting his wife and daughter. Originally from Kochi (Cochin) in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Mr Hareesh came to New Zealand about five years ago to marry his wife, who was already in the country.
Friends and family said Mr Hareesh would start his night-shift job at Otago Daily Times publisher Allied Press at 9.30pm and work through the night, before returning home to look after his daughter while his wife worked as an intensive care nurse at the Southern District Health Board.
His brother-in-law, who declined to be named, said he and another brother subjected Mr Hareesh to a tough interview ahead of the proposed arranged marriage to Nisha.
They were impressed with his kind and genuine nature, as well as his knowledge of cricket, he said.
"We hassled him ... and he passed with flying colours."
He understood the body would be released to the family today or tomorrow before being repatriated to India.
His visibly emotional teammates described him as an excellent all-rounder who opened both bowling and batting, bowling right-arm medium pace and batting left-handed, and able to swing the ball both ways.
He had named the second-grade side, composed of players from the subcontinent including many Malayalees (the majority ethnic group in Kerala), "Super Chunkz", referring to the word for friend in the Malayalam language.
Teammate Cyrus Barnabas said Mr Hareesh had three wishes for the team ahead of the game on Saturday: to score 250, bat their 50 overs and for one player to score a century. Batting first against Albion, they had achieved all three goals, while Mr Barnabas had been the one to score a hundred, supported at the end of his innings by Mr Hareesh who ended on about 30 not out.
The team had been in the field for only about 10 overs when Mr Hareesh, who had bowled two overs, sat down on the pitch, initially complaining of shortness of breath before losing consciousness. Friends and family said he did not have any pre-existing conditions and were at a loss to explain what happened.
Mr Hareesh earned an undergraduate degree in computer science engineering in Kochi before heading to England, where he undertook an MBA at Middlesex University.
He began at Allied Press about five years ago in an entry level role.
Print manager Russell Depree said because Mr Hareesh showed promise and was extremely reliable, he was soon offered the important job of reel hand in the press room, ensuring the reliable supply of reels of newsprint to the presses.
"He was successful in that — he was always very willing, very friendly."
Green Island Cricket Club president John Moyle thanked
Mr Hareesh’s teammates, members of the public and emergency services for their efforts, and offered his condolences to Mr Hareesh’s family.
The club had enlisted the help of Victim Support for both teams playing that day and anyone else who required it.