Syed Abid Ali (72) is not only looking forward to a strong recovery from his heart attack that he suffered last week. The California-based former India all-rounder also wants to witness a change in fortunes for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men who kick off their two-Test series against New Zealand in Auckland today.

Syed Abid Ali
Syed Abid Ali 

Abid Ali woke up for his morning prayers on January 29 and felt uneasy while he was in the bathroom. His wife dialed 911 and Abid Ali was driven to the St Joseph Hospital. “They (doctors) found out that my bypass artery was clogged in three places and they inserted three stents,” Abid Ali told MiD DAY over the phone on Wednesday. After undergoing a bypass surgery in 1994, Abid Ali was treated for a blocked artery five years ago.

It has been a rough ride for the former cricketer. In 2008, his 33-year-old son Faqeer Ali, who married Syed Kirmani’s daughter, collapsed to his death while playing for Tracy United Cricket Club in Fremont. Abid Ali used to umpire matches in California which earned him pleasure and 66 dollars a game. Abid Ali, known for being a fighter on the field, was not impressed with the way the Indians batted on the last tour of South Africa and in the recent one-day series.

“They (batsmen) were going for fours instead of picking singles. One four in an over won’t cause disturbance to any opposition bowler, but if you take three to four singles, the rotation upsets the bowler because he has to bowl in a different way to each batsman if it’s a right-left combination. Taking singles is the essence of making runs and building partnerships,” said Abid Ali.

“In a team, the credo is, ‘together we achieve more’. You could see that missing in South Africa and I saw a little bit missing in the one-dayers against New Zealand as well. Along with physical toughness, there must be mental strength. I don’t think there was emphasis on mental toughness in South Africa and now in New Zealand. Only Virat Kohli and Dhoni were doing well. Our batting failed and we fielded poorly. In a team of six to seven batsmen at least four batsmen should score runs. I hope Dhoni regroups his team well and does something special.”

1967-68 tour of NZ
Abid Ali knows what it takes to regroup. “Before the 1967-68 tour of New Zealand (where India won 3-1), we had lost 0-4 in Australia. Pataudi knew how to get the team together and he did it. We got our act together. We batted better, bowled well and excelled in close-in fielding positions. I opened the batting and bowling. I used to get a wicket and the spinners came and did the rest. Our spinners did a great job,” he recalled.

The 1967-68 win in New Zealand was India’s first overseas Test series win and Abid Ali was part of the 1971 victorious team in West Indies and England as well. India have won only one Test series in Kiwiland after the 1967-68 triumph.
An improved performance in Auckland and Wellington by Dhoni & Co will warm Abid Ali’s heart. And a quick recovery from the attack will make his visit to India possible. After all, he can’t wait to see his nine-year-old grandson, Hyder.