Tendulkar reaches out and comforts Asif Ali

Want to remember my daughter as a warrior: Pakistan batsman

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 24.05.19, 2:55 AM
  • Updated 24.05.19, 2:55 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Sachin Tendulkar Telegraph picture

Sachin ‘The Master’ Tendulkar, who enjoys iconic status across cricket-playing nations, has offered words of comfort for bereaved Pakistan batsman Asif Ali and his family.

Asif’s 19-month-old daughter Noor Fatima lost her battle with stage-IV cancer and passed away in Rochester (US) on Sunday. Asif was then playing in Leeds, in the final ODI against England.

Noor Fatima was laid to rest in Faisalabad on Thursday morning, some hours after her mortal remains arrived from the US.

According to one of those present at the funeral, there were heart-wrenching scenes at the burial ground.

A protege of much-respected former captain Misbah-ul Haq, the 27-year-old Asif will rejoin the Pakistan squad soon.

Given the huge personal loss, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) granted Asif special leave to be with his grieving family at home.

The World Cup begins on May 30 and Pakistan’s first match is on the very next day, against the West Indies, in Nottingham.

“Look, the loss of an immediate family member devastates. I express my heartfelt condolences to Asif, his wife and the other family members...

“Such losses are irreparable and Asif is bound to keep thinking of his late daughter even when he’s back in England for the World Cup...

“I say that from my own sad experience as I lost my father very early in the 1999 World Cup and had returned home (for the last rites)...

“Despite going back, in the thick of action, I couldn’t get the loss of my father out of my thoughts. It takes time...

“I wish Asif well,” a somewhat emotional Sachin told The Telegraph.

Asif Ali leaves during the fourth ODI cricket match between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, on May 17, 2019.
Asif Ali leaves during the fourth ODI cricket match between England and Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, on May 17, 2019. (AP)

Sachin missed the game against Zimbabwe in Leicester and his absence contributed to India’s shock defeat.

That, naturally, had consequences.

Sachin went back to England in time for the very next match, against Kenya (in Bristol), and remained not out on 140. He was the MoM.

Asif, meanwhile, issued a statement which could leave some overwhelmed.

Excerpts…

“We all belong to Allah and to Him we all shall return. I am thankful to everyone who stood by me and my family in this extremely difficult time...

“I want to extend my special gratitude to all doctors, nursing and the support staff of my daughter...

“My heartfelt thanks to the PCB, the US Embassy in Islamabad, the US Consulate in Lahore, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, the Pakistani community in Minnesota and the entire Media for their extraordinary support, care and love for my daughter...

“Fellow-players, coaches and (support) staff have also been quite supportive of me in this phase. I want you all to know that I acknowledge your prayers and love and simply cannot thank you enough...

“I want to remember my daughter as a warrior. She has been a great inspiration and blessing for me. Even though she is not physically with me any more, the fragrance of her memory is going to stay with me...

“Request you all to pray for the soul of my daughter.”

Hard to add anything after that eyes-moistening statement from Asif, a cricketer who beat odds to reach the position he has.