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Indian doctor helped a ‘critical’ Rizwan recover in time for semi-final

The attending pulmonologist, Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, originally from Thiruvananthapuram, said Mohammad Rizwan was critical at the time he was admitted in Dubai's Medeor Hospital.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Dubai |
Updated: November 14, 2021 9:23:46 am
Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen posing with Mohammad Rizwan's jersey. (Special Arrangement, Twitter/ShoaibAkhtar)

It was a race against time. Two days before his team’s T20 World Cup semifinal against Australia, Pakistan’s wicket-keeper opener Mohammad Rizwan, after complaining of severe chest pain, was in the ICU unit of Medeor Hospital near Burjuman in Dubai.

The attending pulmonologist, Dr Saheer Sainalabdeen, originally from Thiruvananthapuram, says Rizwan was critical at the time he was admitted. Under the Indian doctor’s care, Pakistan’s key player recovered in time for the game.

He didn’t just make it to the playing XI, he also made a gritty 67, helping his team post a formidable score in the match that Australia narrowly won. Despite the heartbreaking loss, Rizwan, 29, remembered to acknowledge the efforts put in by the good doctor. As a token of gratitude, he sent across a team shirt, autographed by the Pakistan players.

Speaking to The Sunday Express at his chambers, Dr Saheer credited the quick recovery to Rizwan’s “willpower”.

In ICU for 35 hours

“He was in the ICU for 35 hours. He had a fever for three-four days, but he was Covid negative. Then (two days before the match), he had severe chest pain, enough to make him gasp,” Dr Saheer said.

The 40-year-old doctor said he initially suspected a heart problem, but tests ruled that out. “Actually, due to infection, spasms had blocked Rizwan’s esophagus (food pipe) and trachea (windpipe), resulting in chest pain. His condition was critical.”

Going into the match, Rizwan was not 100%, but managed to score 67 in 52 balls, getting out only in the 18th over of the Pakistan innings. He returned to keep the wickets and took a sharp catch of the in-form Australian opener David Warner, who seemed to be running away with the game.

During a break in the game, Pakistan’s batting coach, former Aussie batsman Mathew Hayden, had revealed to the host broadcaster that Rizwan had been in hospital a day earlier.

“I am a big fan of this batting line-up, they have performed superbly right through with the bat all along, and tonight is no exception. Rizwan was in hospital a night ago, suffering from a bronchitis condition, but this is a warrior… He has great courage, so has Babar (Azam), fantastic to see them combine so well,” Hayden said.

Among those who applauded Rizwan’s drive and commitment was Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. “Can you imagine this guy played for his country today & gave his best. He was in the hospital last two days. Massive respect @iMRizwanPak. Hero,” posted Pakistan great Shoaib Akhtar.

Dr Saheer recalled Rizwan was desperate to play. “Whenever we spoke, he told me, ‘Play I must, I have to be with the team’. He was given an injection before leaving the hospital (a day before the game) and then, two hours before the start of the match, he took medicines. I allowed him to play only because he was medically fit to play,” the doctor said.

Dr Saheer said, Rizwan and his Pakistani teammates wanted to visit him personally to thank him, but biosecurity protocol didn’t allow them to do so. “He said, ‘Ek shirt bhej rahe hain aapko (Sending you an autographed team shirt)’.”

While happy at the gift, Dr Saheer said he was happier at Rizwan’s recovery. “It was down to his willpower. I have never seen a person with such strong willpower. He was weak but his willpower trumped the illness.”

Recalling the challenge, he added: “An illness that usually takes about a week to heal was taken care of inside two days… He had a big game coming up, so it was my duty to walk the extra mile, leave no stone unturned and then see how it goes. When he was admitted to the ICU, I never thought it would be possible. But he responded very well to the treatment, followed our advice in toto and pulled off something unreal.”

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