LAHORE: Test cricketer Abid Ali, who was diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome last month, began this week his rehabilitation at the National High Performance Centre (NHPC) in Lahore, under the supervision of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
The 34-year-old Abid faced the unusual health condition on Dec 21 when he felt chest pain while playing a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match in Karachi. The right-handed batter immediately after the chest pain, was rushed along with the team doctor to a local hospital in Karachi where he underwent angioplasty.
According to the PCB, Abid has started the rehab under the supervision of the Board’s medical team which has made a specific plan for the player to recover and resume the sport.
Abid thanked Allah Almighty for getting the “second life”.
“As cricket has a second innings, the Almighty has given me a second life,” the Lahore-born player told PCB Digital as he commenced his rehabilitation at the NHPC. “I cannot thank the Almighty enough that I am sitting here today.”
Recalling the incident, Abid, who holds a distinguished record of being the only men cricketer to score centuries on his ODI and Test debuts, said: “I started to feel uneasiness and pain while batting. It worried me. When the pain intensified, I did some running and also consulted my batting partner Azhar Ali.
“Subsequently and with the permission of the umpires, I left the field. But as I reached the rope, I started to vomit and got dizzy.
The team physio and doctor Asad [Central Punjab’s team doctor] ran towards me, took off my pads and rushed me to a hospital.”
As he was on his way to the hospital, Abid was unaware of what was unfolding. He had taken the pain that he felt in his chest as a usual muscular one, but it was after the doctors put him under tests that the gravity of the situation was unveiled.
“I was not aware that I was having a heart issue,” he said. “The doctors conducted an ECG (electrocardiogram), which did not come out fine. They asked me how I was even walking and told me, ‘a normal person’s heart operates at 55 per cent, while mine was operating at 30 per cent. The valve of your heart is blocked and we will have to insert two stents.’
“That left me in a state of shock,” remarked Abid who has played 16 Tests and six ODIs for Pakistan.
“Cricket is my life. It is a priceless aspect of my life that I do not want to leave. I am trying to return to cricket as soon as I can … I am hopeful that I will make my comeback [in cricket] in this new life that the Almighty has given me.”
And Abid had a message for fans.
“I want to give a message to everyone: Health is wealth. My request to all the fans is to get yourself screened regularly. This incident helped me to realise its importance.”
Meanwhile, Abid’s team-mates Hasan Ali, Imran Butt and PCB chairman Ramiz Raja expressed their happiness over the rehab of Abid and they hoped for his early recovery.
Meanwhile, to further improve and enhance the effectiveness of the healthcare at venues, Ramiz has asked the PCB medical team to set up defibrillators at the Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi stadiums as well as the National High Performance Centres.
“Welcome back, Abid Ali. Many congratulations to you [on your recovery] as one’s life changes after such an experience. It is your courage that you still have a smile on your face. Such experiences are a learning curve,” Ramiz said.
“The lesson for everyone is even if you are an athlete and do regular sports, one is not aware of the wear and tear that goes inside the body. The good thing is Abid Ali was saved. He received great treatment and was taken care of. He is a star for us.
The PCB chief continued, “This situation can befall on any cricketer. I have asked our doctors to install defibrillators at our stadiums so that they are equipped and ready to use survival kits, should a situation [like faced by Abid] arise.”
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2022