Islamabad: Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan led a chorus of glowing tributes to fast bowler Waqar Younis, who announced his retirement from cricket.
"He was a thinking cricketer and at his peak he was the most destructive bowler the game had seen," said Imran, described by Waqar himself as his "godfather and mentor."
"When I spotted him in the late 1980s and brought him into the Pakistan team, he learnt fast and progressed by leaps and bounds. He was physically very fit and mentally very tough and resilience was his strongest point. Pakistan must utilize his talent and acquire his services as a bowling coach because he can give back what he earned from the game," Imran said.
Waqar, who formed a formidable pace combination with Wasim Akram, played 87 Tests in which he claimed 373 wickets at a superb average of 23.56.
The fast bowler also took 416 wickets in 262 One-day Internationals, only the second bowler after Akram to have more than 400 victims in the shorter version of the game.
"Waqar's retirement has brought the curtain down on one of the game's greatest fast bowlers," said Akram, who himself retired in May last year.
"It was an honour for me to bowl with him. He was a fighter to the core and we enjoyed bowling in tandem."
Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar, preparing for Tuesday's third and decisive Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi, was full of praise for Waqar.
"He was a role model for bowlers," said Tendulkar, who made his Test debut alongside Waqar at Karachi in 1989.
"He had pace, aggression, control and reverse swing. His outstanding record speaks for itself."
Said Indian captain Sourav Ganguly: "Waqar was a lethal bowler who could run through a side at any stage of the game. No batsman could afford to relax while facing him."
Ganguly's deputy, Rahul Dravid, was equally effusive in his praise for Waqar.
"He was a joy to watch in full flight," Dravid said. "Great action, pace, variety and stamina. Bowled reverse swing to deadly effect. Waqar was one of the greatest fast bowlers of his time." Extras Batsmen need not face his toe-crushers again