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Khoda Baksh Mridha, one of the pioneering voices of Bangladesh sports, passed away yesterday at his home near Hatimkhan Muslim High School in Rajshahi. He was 65.

He was suffering from typhoid followed by pneumonia for the past few days and at 8.45am, he was declared dead by doctors at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. Mridha left behind his wife, two sons and two daughters.

After three separate namaz-e-janaza, Mridha was buried at the Hatimkhan graveyard.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her sadness at the death of Mridha in a statement that read: The country's sports commentary suffered an irreparable loss.

A one-minute silence was observed ahead of the Bangladesh Biman-Dhaka Sports match of the Port City League last evening in Sharjah.

Born on 22 January 1945 in Rajshahi, Mridha began his career as a sports commentator in 1972 through an audition in Radio Bangladesh. Six years later, he was listed as a commentator for Bangladesh Television.

Mridha was one of the few personalities in front of the microphone whose voice, with a typical Rajshahi accent, earned plaudits.

Former national cricket captain Roquibul Hasan termed Mridha as a brand name in Bangladesh sport.

"I was close to him and I'm down because I think it (his death) is too early. Mridha bhai was an identity in Bangladesh sport. It was a privilege for me to work with him since he used to speak on us when we played," said Roquibul.

"I had a very good friendship with him and we were both students of Political Science.

"I think his best quality was that no matter how much we poked him or pulled his leg about his language-based commentary, he would always take it in good humour," revealed the former cricketer and now a television personality.

Roquibul also saw Mridha the cricketer when the man from Rajshahi took part in two private cricket tournaments in the 1960s.

"I know him since the days of the Kardar Summer Cricket tournament, organised by the Eaglets Club, where he played for Rajshahi Sunrise Club. He was a good pace bowler who played for Rajshahi district those days in the college as well as national level," informed Roquibul, who requested the Rajshahi divisional sports authorities to name the press box of the football stadium after Mridha.

Abdul Hamid, a senior commentator who has worked with Mridha since the 1970s, recalled their times in the commentary box and particularly the 1999 SAFF Football Championship in Kathmandu where they worked for the radio.

"I have worked with him (Khoda Baksh Mridha) since his initial years and we did it out of passion for sports," said Hamid who began his commentary career in 1963.

"He had a very calm personality and I always enjoyed his company," said Hamid, who recalled the other fellow commentators who passed away in the past decade.

"He was younger than me; I didn't expect such a sudden departure. We already lost Tawfiq Aziz Khan, Ataul Haque Mallick and Mohammad Shahjahan so I'm very sad," lamented Hamid.

State Minister for Youth and Sports Ahad Ali Sarkar, Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Abul Kalam Azad, BCB president AHM Mustafa Kamal, sports commentators of Bangladesh Radio and Television and Abahani Limited also condoled the death of Mridha.

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