A Dunedin cricketer who died suddenly during a game at the weekend has been described as a fine club player, dedicated employee and devoted family man.
Hareesh Gangadharan, 33, collapsed in 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 behind his wife Nisha Hareesh and their 3-year-old daughter Gowri.
Teammates and colleagues were yesterday 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, Hareesh came to New Zealand about five years ago to marry his wife, who was already in the country.
Friends and family said 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 was at her job at the Southern District Health Board.
His brother-in-law, who declined to be named, said he and another brother subjected 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."
The brother-in-law understood the body would be released to the family today or tomorrow before being repatriated to India.
Hareesh's 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.
Teammate Cyrus Barnabas said 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 hundred.
Batting first against Albion, they had achieved all three goals, while Barnabas himself had been the one to score a hundred, supported at the end of his innings by Hareesh who ended on about 30 not out.
The team had been in the field for only about 10 overs when 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.
Hareesh earned an undergraduate degree in Computer Science Engineering in Kochi before heading to England where he completed 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 Hareesh showed promise and was extremely reliable, he was soon offered the important the job of reel hand in the press room, insuring the reliable supply of reels of newsprint to the presses.
"He was always very willing, very friendly," Depree said.
Green Island club president John Moyle hailed the efforts of players, members of the public and emergency services, and offered the family condolences.