Raman Lamba (2 January 1960 – 23 February 1998) was an Indian cricketer who played in four Tests and 32 One Day Internationals, mainly as a batsman. He also represented Ireland in unofficial One Day International matches.Lamba died after slipping into coma due to internal haemorrhage, three days after being hit on the temple by a cricket ball while fielding in Bangladesh’s league cricket.
Raman Lamba was born on 2 January 1960 at Meerut, he was a right-handed bat. His pride was his fitness and that gave him the feeling that he could serve Delhi up to the age of 45 and his club Sonnet till he reached his half century.
Commencing his Ranji Trophy career in 1980-81, Lamba continued playing in the championship in the season 1997-98, until his death. He scored 6362 runs at an average of 53.91 in 87 matches, scoring 22 centuries including 5 double centuries and his career highest of 312 versus Himachal Pradesh at Delhi in 1994-95, which is not only his personal highest score but it is one among the highest individual scores for Delhi. He aggregated 1034 runs in 10 matches at an average of 73.86 with 3 centuries and 4 half centuries in the season 1994-95 which was also a record in Ranji Trophy of scoring the maximum runs in a Ranji season. He led Delhi in 8 matches in the season 1994-95, winning 3 and drawing 5. His 320 in the Duleep Trophy for North Zone against West Zone in the final at Bhilai in 1986-87 still remains among highest individual scores till date. In first class cricket, he scored a total of 8776 runs at 53.84 and his 175 innings including 31 centuries and 27 fifties.
Lamba’s highest score 320* came in the Duleep Trophy Final in 1987-88 for North Zone v West Zone. The West might have felt very satisfied with their first innings score of 444, with their captain and Test opener Anshuman Gaekwad making 216. Their opponents, however, had other ideas and replied with 868 all out. Lamba left Gaekwad in the shade with 320 in 720 minutes which was scored off 471 balls including six 6s and thirty 4s. That season he totalled 1097 runs at 84.38.
Seven years later he crossed the triple hundred mark again with 312 for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy match versus Himachal Pradesh at Delhi. The hosts ran up 637-3 declared owing much to a first wicket Indian record wicket 464 between Lamba and Ravi Sehgal, who made 216. Lamba’s 312 came off 392 balls with two 6s and twenty five 4s and took 567 minutes. These innings and similar knocks, such as his 617 balls 250 for Delhi v Punjab in 1996/97 gained him a somewhat mixed reputation.
Lamba appeared for India as a one day player in the 1986 Australasia Cup final, when he also took an acrobatic catch to dismiss Abdul Qadir off Kapil Dev, where he played as substitute fielder. He had a great opening in One day cricket as he scored 64 in his first match and 102 in his sixth match as he won the man of the series against Australia for scoring 278 runs at an average of 55.60 per innings with a century and 2 fifties. His scoring pattern in 6 innings were 64, 1, 20*, 74, 17 and 102.
Lamba and Krishnamachari Srikkanth were India’s openers for the Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Cup in 1989. Twice they had 100 runs opening partnership, against Australia and Pakistan. Their approach was similar, as both were stroke players. Their aggressive batting approach as openers was later adopted by opening pair Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana in 1996 world cup.
Lamba died on 23 February 1998 in the Post Graduate Hospital in Dhaka in Bangladesh after he was hit on the temple by a cricket ball hit by Mehrab Hossain off left arm spinner Saifullah Khan while fielding at forward short leg. (It is said that Lamba was asked to wear a helmet, but he thought it was unnecessary as only three balls of the over were remaining when he was asked to move to that position. He was known not to use a helmet while fielding close in.) Lamba was playing for Dhaka’s leading club, Abahani Krira Chakra, in the final of the Premier Division cricket match versus Mohammedan Sporting Club at the Dhaka Bangabandhu Stadium on 20 February 1998.
The shot was so ferocious that the ball deflected from his head and flew into wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud’ s gloves. He was not wearing a helmet. Mohammad Aminul Islam, the former Bangladesh captain, recalled “I was the new man in and asked Raman if he was okay. He said, ‘Bulli (Islam’s nickname is Bulbul) main to mar gaya’ (I am dead, Bulli)”. Although the injury did not appear to be particularly serious, Lamba suffered an internal haemorrhage and slipped into a coma. Although a neurosurgeon was flown in from Delhi, all efforts were in vain. After three days his ventilator was removed and Lamba was declared dead.
There were tributes from all over the world when Lamba died. His wife Kim, paid him the most moving tribute when she put the Sonnet Club cap on Lamba.