It was a race against time. Two days before his team’s T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia, Pakistan wicket-keeper opener Mohammad Rizwan was kept in the ICU unit of Medore Hospital near Burjuman in Dubai after complaining of severe chest pain.
Dr Sahir Sainalbadin, a pulmonologist originally from Thiruvananthapuram, says that Rizwan was in critical condition at the time he was admitted. The key players from Pakistan recovered in time for the game under the supervision of an Indian doctor.
Not only did he make it to the playing XI, but he played a scintillating knock of 67 runs to help his team post a stellar score in the match that Australia won. Despite the heart-wrenching defeat, 29-year-old Rizwan remembered to acknowledge the efforts put in by a good doctor. As a token of gratitude, he sent a team shirt, which had the signatures of Pakistani players.
Speaking to The Sunday Express in his chambers, Dr. Sahir attributed the speedy recovery to Rizwan’s “willpower”.
35 hours in ICU
“He was in ICU for 35 hours. He had fever for three-four days, but he was Kovid negative. Then (two days before the match), he had severe chest pain, which was enough to make him gasp,” said Dr Sahir.
The 40-year-old doctor said he initially suspected a heart problem, but tests ruled it out. “In fact, due to the infection, the spasm had blocked Rizwan’s esophagus (food pipe) and trachea (windpipe), resulting in chest pain. His condition was critical.”
Rizwan was not 100% when the match went into the match, but managed to score 67 off 52 balls, only to be dismissed in the 18th over of Pakistan’s innings. He returned to keep wickets and took a quick catch of in-form Australian opener David Warner, who seemed to be running away from the game.
During the break in the game, former Australian batsman Matthew Hayden, Pakistan’s batting coach, had told the host broadcaster that Rizwan was in the hospital the day before.
“I am a big fan of this batting line-up, they have done brilliantly with the bat, and tonight is no exception. Rizwan was in the hospital the night before, suffering from a bronchitis condition, but this is a warrior. He has a lot of courage, so it is wonderful to see Babar (Azam) combine so well,” Hayden said.
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was also among those who lauded Rizwan’s campaign and commitment. “Can you imagine that this man played for his country today and gave his best. He was in the hospital for the last two days. Huge respect @iMRizwanPak. Hero,” posted Pakistan great Shoaib Akhtar.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) November 11, 2021
Dr Sahir recalled that Rizwan was desperate to play. “Whenever we spoke, he told me, ‘I want to play, I have to be with the team’. Before leaving the hospital (the day before the game) he was given an injection and then, two hours before the match started Earlier, he took medicines. I let him play only because he was medically fit to play,” said the doctor.
Dr Sahir said, Rizwan and his Pakistani colleagues wanted to visit him personally to thank him, but the biosecurity protocol did not allow him to do so. “He said, ‘Ek shirt bhi hai aapko (sending you an autographed team shirt)’.”
Rejoicing at the gift, Dr. Sahir said that he is happy that Rizwan is recovering. “It was down to his will power. I have never seen such a strong willed person. He was weak but his willpower overcame the disease.
Recalling the challenge, he said: “An illness that usually takes about a week to recover, was cured within two days … He had a big game coming up, so walking the extra mile, no It was my duty not to leave stone unturned and then see how it goes. When he was admitted to ICU I never thought it would be possible. But he responded very well to the treatment, totally following our advice complied and dispelled some untruths.”