Karachi/New Delhi: Pakistan's master leg-spinner Abdul Qadir died in Lahore on Friday after suffering from a massive cardiac arrest, his family confirmed.
Qadir was 63 years old and is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter who is married to current Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal.
Former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman, Kamran Akmal, Umar's elder brother, confirmed the tragic news about Qadir's death.
It is learnt that the veteran suffered a cardiac arrest when he was at home and was declared dead on arrival after being rushed to a hospital.
Qadir, who played in 67 Tests and 104 ODIs had a total 368 wickets in his international career, would have celebrated his 64th birthday on 15th September.
In fact another spin great Mushtaq Ahmed only came into prominence imitating Qadir's action.
For Indian fans, Qadir will forever be etched in memories for his unique angular bowling action. It started in a get-set-go mode where he would licking his lips and using the saliva and the heavy hip pivot was unique in its style.
For all those growing up in the 80s, every mohalla cricket, whether the bylanes of Karachi or colonies in Delhi had their own "Abdul Qadir prototype".
But the fondest memories would certainly be related to 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar attacking him with great gusto during an exhibition match. Qadir, who was at the twilight of his career, repeatedly tossed it up and Tendulkar would just dance down the track to hit him for four sixes.
There were many stories how Qadir mildly sledged Tendulkar and enticed him to go after him. However, many times after that, he had acknowledged that it was that moment in the game, which he made him believe that he has seen something special.
Qadir was a favourite of the Indian media and had been associated with many channels as an expert in earlier years. A raconteur par excellence, Qadir would narrate stories of the famous Indo-Pak cricket matches of 80s when both countries frequently toured.
Qadir, who remained a critic of the Pakistan Cricket Board's policies till the end, worked as chief selector in 2009 and it was the squad that was selected by him that went on to win the ICC World T20 in England.
Qadir had resigned midway through the tournament as chief selector after having differences with the erstwhile PCB chairman Ejaz Butt over the non-selection of fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.
Always a colourful character, Qadir was a favourite of Pakistan's World Cup-winning captain turned prime minister, Imran Khan and he produced some of his best performances under Imran's captaincy taking 9 for 56 against the West Indies in a Test at Faisalabad.
All four of his sons, Rehman, Imran, Sulaman and Usman have played first class cricket in Pakistan while his youngest Usman (also a leg-spinner like his father) also appeared in the Big Bash T20 league last season and has shown his intention to qualify to play for Australia after being overlooked time and again by Pakistani selectors.
Cricket pundits and writers believe that Qadir's biggest achievement was to keep the art of wrist spin alive during the eras of 70s and 80s when fast bowlers dominated world cricket.
Tributes pour in
Imran led the country in paying tributes to the spin legend. "I have lost a good friend and a wonderful cricketer who served the country so well," Imran said in his condolence message.
The cricketer-turned-politician said Qadir's death was a shock to him.
Wasim Akram called him a "magician" while Shoaib Akhtar said that he will forever be "indebted" to Qadir as current and former cricketers paid homage to the maestro.
"They called him the magician for many reasons but when he looked me in the eyes and told me I was going to play for Pakistan for the next 20 years, I believed him. A Magician, absolutely. A leg spinner and a trailblazer of his time. You will be missed Abdul Qadir but never forgotten," Akram, who played in the national team alongside Qadir, recollected.
"Sad news mate! Loved watching him bowl," responded Australian speedster Brett Lee in a tweet quoting the one posted by Akram.
Akhtar, one of Pakistan's most fearsome fast bowlers, put out a video message in which he expressed his gratitude towards Qadir for backing his selection when he was the head of the panel in 2009.
"I would forever remain indebted to Qadir bhai as he supported me in 2009. He fought for my comeback even when I wasn't fully fit as he believed that I can win matches for Pakistan. The revival of leg spin in cricket is completely credited to him. He inspired a generation of bowlers to take up leg spin. My heart goes out to his family," Akhtar said.
The death was also condoled by cricket stars in India.
"Shocked to hear Abdul Qadir passed away. Met him two years back he was full of energy as always..A champion bowler, great human being, you will be missed forever...condolences to the family," tweeted off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed also expressed his sorrow.
"Absolutely shocking news to hear the sad passing Legend Abdul Qadir saab. May Allah SWT grant him the highest rank in jannah and his family the patience to bear the loss," the skipper tweeted.
Another former skipper Shoaib Malik also paid homage to the legend.
"My heart goes out to the family of our legend Abdul Qadir saab, May Allah give him the highest level of Jannat and may people always remember him with love and the highest level of respect in this world, Ameen," Malik tweeted.
"It is a great loss to Pakistan cricket because it was Qadir bhai's leg-spin magic and artistry that inspired a generation of young leg-spin bowlers in Pakistan and around the cricket world," former Pakistan leg-break bowler Danish Kaneria said.