Abdul Qadir: The late leg-spin wizard's 5 best bowling performances

Ali Akber

No one could spin it the way Qadir could

Born on September 15, 1955, in Lahore, Abdul Qadir Khan was known as one of the best leg spinners to have ever graced the game. Coming from the land of ferocious fast bowlers, Qadir turned the world of spin-bowling on its head after making his international cricket debut on December 14, 1977.

Qadir appeared in 67 Test and 104 One Day International matches between 1977 and 1993 and captained Pakistan in five Test matches and two ODIs. He ended his career with 236 wickets in Tests and 132 in ODIs. Qadir has an equally exceptional First-Class record (960 wickets in 209 games) which makes him one of the finest bowlers Pakistan ever produced.

He played important roles in Pakistan's World Cup campaigns in 1983 and 1987 during both of which they made it to the semi-finals, picking up 24 wickets in 13 matches. Apart from that, he was also handy with the bat and had three half-centuries to his name in Test cricket with the highest score of 61. He retired from international cricket on November 2, 1993, after playing his last ODI against Sri Lanka.

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan called him "One of the greatest leg spinners of all time".

Qadir not only served as a bowler for the Pakistani cricket team as he was also a commentator and the Chief Selector of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for quite some time. Qadir was a willing advisor to youngsters, who mentored fellow countrymen like Mushtaq Ahmed, Danish Kaneria, and Shahid Afridi, as well as Australia's Shane Warne and South Africa's Imran Tahir.

To celebrate the cricketing legend’s career, we will look at the 5 best bowling performances he delivered for his team which made him the best leg-spinner ever produced by Pakistan.

#1 West Indies at Faisalabad - 1986

West Indies had no idea how to play the leg-spinner

During the 80s, it was tough to match the bowling line-up of the West Indians. Their fast bowlers wreaked havoc wherever they went and bagged so many wickets that the opponents had no clue how to counter them.

Arriving in Pakistan, the West Indians were met by a formidable Pakistani bowling line-up consisting of Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, Abdul Qadir, and Tauseef Ahmed. When the two teams went to war in the first Test of the series, the Pakistani bowling line-up delivered very well. While Qadir managed to pick up only one wicket in the first innings, he went on to take six wickets in just 9.3 overs in the second innings which saw West Indies bundled out for just 53 runs and helped Pakistan win the match.

The match was important as it displayed Qadir’s quality. He was the most successful spin bowler on the pitch and picked the highest wickets in a match where Wasim Akram bagged 6 wickets in one inning, while Imran Khan and Malcolm Marshall picked up five wickets each.

#2 Australia at Faisalabad - 1982

Qadir had a unique bowling style

Australia had also been one of the top teams in the world in all formats of the game, and defeating them has always been a huge achievement for any team.

In the second match of a series between Pakistan and Australia in Faisalabad, Sep 30 - Oct 5, 1982, Pakistan was already on top in the series after winning in the first Test. In the second match, Pakistan scored a massive 506 runs before declaring the innings after the fall of six wickets.

With the job of finishing off the match resting on the shoulders of the bowlers, Qadir outshone the rest by picking up four wickets in the first innings on the match and rolling over Australia for just 168 runs. He continued his form by picking up seven wickets in the second innings, ending with an 11-wicket haul in the match.

Australia got bowled out for 330 runs and Pakistan won the match with a margin of an innings and 3 runs. Qadir got the final wicket of Jeff Thompson to ensure Australia did not cross Pakistan’s first innings score.

#3 England at Lahore - 1987

Very few could match his skills

1987 proved to be a great year for the spin wizard. At the Kennington Oval in August 1987, Qadir's ten-wicket haul ensured Pakistan continued their Test victories with a series win in England.

Three months later the English team travelled to Pakistan where Qadir was waiting to continue his magnificent year. In the first Test of the series, Qadir grabbed nine wickets for 56 runs at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, in the first innings. His effort still remains as the best bowling figures in an innings by a Pakistani. This is also the seventh-best performance for an innings in Test cricket, and the best by any bowler against England.

Qadir knocked over Graham Gooch, Chris Broad, Tim Robinson, Mike Gatting, Bill Athey, Phillip DeFreitas, John Emburey, Neil Foster, and Nick Cook during the match-winning performance.

He ended the series with 30 wickets for 437 runs in three Tests.

#4 New Zealand at Edgbaston - 1983

New Zealand had a tough time playing the debutant in ODIs

The 1983 Cricket World Cup was an important one for Pakistan, as the team was being led by Imran Khan who’d taken over the reins from Javed Miandad in 1982. Imran Khan was at the peak of his career then and was trying to include some fresh blood into the Pakistani squad even with the all-important World Cup taking place. Abdul Qadir was one of the men who got a chance to debut during the 60-over World Cup, and the leg-spinner played his first match against New Zealand at Edgbaston.

Qadir walked into the bowling line-up with a huge reputation and expectations from his captain and managed to deliver in his very first outing. He bagged the wickets of Bruce Edgar, John Wright, Lane Cairns, and captain Geoff Howarth in what ended up as a four-wicket haul for the leg spinner in his 12 overs.

Even though the Pakistani batting line could not live up to the occasion resulting in the team losing the match by 52 runs while chasing a target of 239, it was Qadir who was awarded the Man of the Match award for his excellent bowling spell on debut which earned him the wickets of New Zealand’s top four batsmen.

#5 Sri Lanka at Leeds - 1983

The world knew his name after the Cricket World Cup 1983

On many occasions, cricketers manage to make a huge first impression but fail to carry on the momentum when moving ahead in their career. Even though this has ruined the careers of many cricketers, Abdul Qadir was a rare talent who was able to build on the early momentum he got.

In his second match which followed his early success, Qadir managed to bag his first-ever five-wicket haul in ODIs. Roy Dias, captain Duleep Mendis, Rumesh Ratnayake, Arjuna Ranatunga, and wicketkeeper Guy de Alwis all fell victim to the fresh leg-spinner in Pakistan’s bowling arsenal.

It wasn’t just his bowling that helped Pakistan win the match against Sri Lanka, but a handy batting partnership worth 31-runs with Imran Khan proved to be crucial in the 11-run win. This resulted in Qadir winning his second consecutive Man of the Match award for his efforts and made him become an overnight star for the Pakistanis.