Karachi- Former Pakistan batsman Hanif Mohammad, player of the world's longest Test innings, died Thursday in a Karachi hospital after a prolonged illness, doctors said.
The 81-year-old was famous for his dogged batting in Pakistan's nascent years in international cricket, having opened as a schoolboy for the country's first Test against India in Delhi in 1952.
Short in stature Mohammad -- one of four brothers who played for Pakistan and a former national team captain -- hit a still unbeaten record of 337 in a marathon 970-minute stay at the crease against the West Indies in Barbados in 1958.
That record earned him the epithet of "Little Master", which stayed with him for an illustrious career that lasted until 1970 during which he played 55 Tests.
He surpassed Donald Bradman's record for the highest first class innings, scoring 499 for Karachi against Bahawalpur in January 1959 -- a record which West Indian Brian Lara broke by scoring 501 not out for Warwickshire county against Durham in 1994.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said he had made an "enormous" contribution to the game.
"Hanif took batting to great heights and many batsmen drew inspiration from him.. one can only imagine the kind of impact his batting had on others over the years," ICC chief executive David Richardson said in a statement.
Mohammad died while under treatment at the private Aga Khan hospital after suffering multiple breathing and liver problems, having undergone an operation for liver cancer three years ago.
"Hanif has been declared as dead just now," a hospital spokesman confirmed to AFP.
Earlier in the day, local media reported that Mohammad had died before he had officially been declared dead by the hospital.
Hospital sources said that Mohammad's heart had stopped for some minutes in the afternoon, but that a team of doctors revived him before he died hours later in the evening.
Mohammad's three brothers -- Wazir, Mushtaq and Sadiq, as well as his son Shoaib -- also played for Pakistan.
The Pakistan Cricket Board and former Pakistan players expressed their condolences.
"We are saddened by the death of (the) legendary Hanif and it's a great loss to world cricket in general and Pakistan cricket in particular as he was an icon who served the country in its early years," said a PCB message.
Former Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram said he was saddened by Mohammad's death.
"He was seen as the pioneer of Pakistan cricket and his death has left a big void...as he was always willing to pass his advice to youngsters and I also benefited from him in my early days," Wasim told AFP.