The news of the sudden death of the 33-year-old Indian-origin cricketer who collapsed during a game in Dunedin on Saturday, February 2, has come as a huge shock to the community.

Green Island Cricket Club all-rounder Hareesh Gangadharan, originally from Kochi, the Indian state of Kerala, was said to be walking away from the pitch after completing his bowling when he complained of shortness in breath and collapsed immediately on the ground.

However, ensuing frantic efforts by team-member, some of whom has medical backgrounds, other players and spectators on the ground, failed to revive Hareesh.

The family of the deceased, who are expectedly in complete shock, have decided to take Hareesh’s body back to his hometown Kochi, India.

Hareesh is survived with a 3-year-old daughter with his wife, Nisha Hareesh.

Hareesh had an undergraduate degree in Computer Science Engineering in Kochi, India after which he pursued his higher studies in England where he completed an MBA at Middlesex University, before joining his wife after marriage about six years ago.

Hareesh’ close friend Dr Luxmanan Selvanesan, a former president of Dunedin Tamil Society living in Dunedin, told The Indian Weekender, he was one of the first persons to be called after the unfortunate incident.

“I got a call from the Rajesh Thomas after the incident. I and Rajesh went to the field immediately. We heard repeated efforts of the St John's Ambulance team to resuscitate him had failed. The police were also present at the ground,” Dr Selvanesan said.

Mourning his close friend’s sudden death, Mr Selvanesan fought with his emotions while speaking to The Indian Weekender, expressing his sorrow of losing a friend.

A picture shared by Luxmanan Selvanasan with Haressh Gangadharan (Right) in an emotional post on Facebook 

Hareesh came to New Zealand almost six-years ago and married his wife Nisha who was already living here. He worked at the Otago Daily Times Publisher, Allied Press in the night shift and came home early in the morning to look after his 3-year-old daughter while his wife went to work as a nurse at Southern District Health Board.

“Hareesh was like my brother; I knew him ever since he came to New Zealand. He was bright, hardworking, a family guy, and a very good sportsman. He played five to six seasons for his team and was an all-rounder with brilliant bowling and batting skills.

“After visiting him at the stadium where he was declared dead, I tried to contact his wife Nisha who was at work at that time. Hareesh’s father-in-law and mother-in-law are in New Zealand who have come here on a family visit,” Dr Selvanesan added.

Earlier NZ Herald reported that 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.

Playing against Albion, Hareesh’s team batted first where he score 30 runs not out. In the second innings, the team has only been on the field bowling for ten overs when Hareesh, who had bowled two overs, sat down on the pitch, initially complaining of shortness of breath before losing consciousness. His friends and family said he did not have any pre-existing conditions and were at a loss to explain what happened.

Preparations to take the body back to India has started as Dunedin Malayalee Association has come forward to raise funds for the family at their hour of distress.

Green Island Cricket Club will be required to complete an incident report but New Zealand Cricket's manager of public affairs Richard Boock said there was no indication it was a sports mishap, NZ Herald reported on Sunday.

"Early indications are that the player has had a heart attack. It is tragic. Everyone is shattered, both at the club and Otago Cricket. Our hearts go out to his family,” Mr Brooke said.

“For those unaware of the sad news from Sunnyvale yesterday afternoon, our collective heartfelt sympathy goes to the family and friends of Green Island Second Grade member who died as a result of a medical event at the ground. Our thoughts are with all those involved with the match,” Dunedin Cricket’s post read.

Green Island Cricket Club’s Facebook page (Green Island Swamprats) too posted an emotional message expressing the shock losing their bright team member.

“I am heartbroken to confirm the news of the very sudden death of our Green Island Cricket Club member while playing yesterday at Sunnyvale. Hareesh Gangadharan suffered a medical event and despite all efforts by teammates, the public and emergency services he could not be saved.

“On behalf of the Green Island Cricket Club, we offer our sincere condolences to his wife and family, President of Green Island Cricket Club John Moyle said in the post.

“We have enlisted the services of Victim Support for Hareesh’s team and the Albion men who were playing at the time. If anyone requires any further support, please do not hesitate to contact me and I can arrange such services.

“Thank you to everyone at the ground yesterday. During such devastation I was reminded of what a superb club and community we belong to,” the message read.