Azharuddin: Abdul Qadir was exceptional and will always remain special

The former India captain also says Abdul Qadir played in the right spirit of the game despite being in the opposition.

Abdul Qadir passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest.   -  Getty Images

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin described Abdul Qadir, who passed away on Friday after suffering cardiac arrest, as a "fantastic human being who would go out of his way to help people".

Azharuddin, who played against Qadir multiple times during the 1980s, said: "Abdul Qadir was one of the finest cricketers of our times. And not just that, he was also a fantastic human being -- he would go out of his way to help out people.

"Despite playing in the opposition team, he always had great respect for us and he played in the right spirit of the game. That’s a great thing. It’s a sad day for the cricketing world and my thoughts are with his family."

Recalling his battle with Qadir during the 1987 home series against Pakistan, Azharuddin said: "I still have fond memories of the home series in 1987. I remember every time I took him on, I would hit straight and after a while, he came and told me: 'Why are you always hitting it straight? Hit somewhere else please. If you continue to hit straight, you will end up breaking my finger or hand'. That was a banter, and we had a good laugh. He was not only a pioneer of modern spin bowling, but also a jovial person."

Sachin Tendulkar, on his first tour of Pakistan with the national team, hit four sixes in an over of Qadir. Azharuddin, who was part of that Indian side, said: "I was also a witness to that historic match when Sachin Tendulkar challenged him (Qadir) in an exhibition match in Peshawar. Despite being taken to the cleaners by Sachin, he did make it a point to congratulate Sachin and praised him. Not many bowlers would praise the opponent batsman after getting hit so much. But Qadir was exceptional and that’s why he will always remain special."