Former leg-spin maestro Abdul Qadir Khan died of cardiac arrest at the age of 63 in Lahore, his family confirmed on Friday.
Khan’s son Salman Qadir confirmed the demise of the iconic cricketer. The former star was shifted to Services Hospital after the heart attack but he could not survive.
“My father never had a heart problem so it was sudden and shocking that he suffered a severe attack and could not survive,” Salman Qadir told AFP.
Known as the dancing bowler due to his peculiar bowling style, Abdul Qadir played 67 Test and 104 One-Day International matches for Pakistan.
The legendary cricketer played his first Test against England in Lahore on Dec 14, 1977 and first ODI against New Zealand in Birmingham on Jun 11, 1983.
He played his last international Test against West Indies in Lahore on Dec 6, 1990, while his last ODI was against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Nov 2, 1993. He also served as the chief selector of Pakistan team.
He took 236 wickets in Test matches throughout his international career — with a best of 9-65 against England in 1987. These figures are still the best by a Pakistan bowler in a Test innings.
He also took 132 wickets in 104 ODIs, with now prime minister and the then skipper Imran Khan using him as an attacking weapon in the 1983 World Cup held in England.
Qadir’s unique dancing action was as attractive as it was destructive, spinning the ball prodigiously and had a lethal googly and a flipper.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed deep grief over the demise of the renowned cricketer and offered his prayers for the aggrieved family.
“Abdul Qadir’s death has deprived Pakistan of a great cricketer who blazed the name of his country across the world,” the prime minister said in a statement.
“Abdul Qadir’s death has deprived me of a dear friend and left me truly saddened.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board also offered its deepest condolences to Khan’s family and friends.
“The PCB is shocked at the news of ‘maestro’ Abdul Qadir’s passing and has offered its deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed “heartfelt grief” on the demise of the cricket legend.
“The COAS expresses heartfelt grief on demise of cricket legend Abdul Qadir,” DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Abdul Ghafoor tweeted.
“Pakistan has lost a great sportsman and a human being. May Allah bless his soul and give strength to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss, Ameen,” he quoted the COAS as saying.
Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed also took to Twitter to express his grief and shock.
“Absolutely shocking news to hear the sad passing of legend Abdul Qadir sahib. May Allah grant him the highest rank in jannah and his family the patience to bear the loss. #Ameen.”
Former bowler Shoaib Akhtar tweeted a video message over the demise of Khan. He said, “Legendary leg spinner Abdul Qadir passed away. Just got this sad news. The revival of leg spin in cricket is completely credited to him.”
“He inspired a generation of bowlers to take up leg spin. Inna lillahi wa inna elaihi rajaoon.“
Legendary cricketer Wasim Akram also took to Twitter to pay a rich tribute to Khan.
He wrote, “They called him the magician for many reasons but when he looked at me in the eyes and told me that 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.”