Imran Khan leads tributes to 'genius' Abdul Qadir after former Pakistan leg-spinner dies aged 63

The 'magical' bowler still holds the record for best figures in a Test innings for a Pakistani

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Tributes from some of cricket's biggest names have poured in after following the announcement that former Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir died on Friday aged 63.

Qadir played 67 Tests for Pakistan from 1977 to 1990, taking 236 Test wickets after making his debut against England in Lahore.

His son, Salman Qadir, confirmed his father died of a heart attack in Lahore.

The art of leg-spin was a rare sight in international cricket in the 1980s, but Qadir was regarded as the player who kept it alive ahead of the arrival of the likes of Shane Warne, Mushtaq Ahmed and later on for Pakistan, Danish Kaneria.

He possessed a vast range of deliveries, including devastating variants of the googly, and to this day still holds the record for best Test bowling figures by a Pakistani when he took 9-56 against England in 1987.

Former Pakistan teammate and captain and current Prime Minister Imran Khan described Qadir as a "genius" and said he was "the life of the dressing room entertaining the team with his wit and humour".

He added that his statistics didn't do him justice, and that his numbers would have been comparable to Australian leg-spinner Warne had the DRS system been in place during Qadir's era.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) echoed Khan's sentiments, noting his popular personality as well as his achievements on the pitch.

"His contributions and achievements were not only limited on-field, but he ensured he transferred the art of leg-spin to the up-and-coming cricketers," PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said.

“Apart from being a maestro with the ball, Abdul Qadir was a larger-than-life figure who was adored, loved and respected across the globe due to his excellent understanding and knowledge of the game, and strong cricket ethics and discipline."

Wasim Akram, another former Pakistan captain, said on Twitter that Qadir was a "trailblazer of his time".

He added: "They called him the magician for many reasons but when he looked me in the eyes & told me I was going to play for Pakistan for the next 20 years, I believed him. A Magician, absolutely."

India's Sachin Tendulkar sent his condolences on Twitter, saying that Qadir was "one of the best spinners of his times".

Respected commentator Ramiz Raja, who played for Pakistan between 1984 and 1997, had one of the best views of Qadir's skills, having regularly fielded close to the bat while Qadir was going through his repertoire.

"His hand quicker than the eye, Abdul Qadir rolled over many a giants with a magnificent sleight of hand! Thank you for letting me watch it from short leg. The best legspinner of his era, he pioneered the art of leg spin in one day cricket," he said on Twitter, while also sharing a video of his teammate "destroying the West Indies in 1986 with neutral umpires".

Qadir was also a key figure for Pakistan in one-day international cricket, taking 132 wickets in 104 games between 1983 and 1993.

He served as Pakistan's chief selector for a period in 2008 and ran a private cricket academy outside PCB headquarters at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.