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Career Ending Injuries with Saba Karim

There’s a saying – life gives with one hand and takes with another. Whether you retrospect or introspect nothing can be more harsh a reality than the saying.

Consider South Africa’s stumper Mark Boucher. He firmly sits in cricket’s hall of fame with so many jewels in his crown. Just one eluded him. He was one short of 1000 international dismissals and 150 test matches. A regulation Imran Tahir delivery hit the stump and the bail popped up and struck his left eye, ending a career with the last jewel remaining so close yet so far. Craig Kieswetter of England in recent times and India’s Syed Saba Karim in 2000, both wicket keepers, had the same tragic end to their career.

Hailing from Bihar, a small state in the map of Indian cricket, Syed Saba Karim battled his way into the national team. Having played 34 ODIs he was just finding his feet in a star studded team comprising of Sachin Tendulakar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. Saba had a promising start in India colour. On his way to 55 in the ODI debut he clobbered the likes of Allan Donald of South Africa.

Catastrophe struck Saba in 2000. An Anil Kumble delivery ricocheted of the batsman’s pad and hit bang on his right eye in an Asia cup match in Bangladesh. Even a series of surgery could not save his macula. Left with very little vision Saba’s indomitable spirit was not convinced to give in. Riding on a sheer conviction Karim won his one and only test cap against the same country where the tragedy occurred. Sadly the lack of vision was discernible since he was unable to judge the trajectory of the ball.

Just turn the clock back. In 1961 India’s Late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi lost one of his eyes in a car accident at 21 years of age, just six months before his Test debut. Tiger, as he was nicknamed prowled on the ground with the eye a tiger and played all his 46 tests with one eye.

Tiger Pataudi had age in his favour. Saba got hit in his 30’s which like Mark Boucher made his task impossible. Saba Karim faded away from the cricket field with an enviable first class record of 7310 runs at an average of 55.66 in 120 matches, but not in life.

While many an individual reel under the shock of a tragedy, Saba has since moved on. He donned many hats. He is a respected cricket commentator and just finished a stint as the general manager cricket operations with the Indian cricket board. The soft spoken man is content with a happy family. My best wishes to Saba on behalf of Cricketworld.