The death of Pataudi brought to an end indeed a royal chapter of Indian cricket. R.I. P, Tiger Pataudi.
New Delhi, Sept 22 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS) A royal era of Indian cricket came to an end on Thursday when the nation’s first superstar cricketer and youngest captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi passed away in New Delhi after battling lung infection for a month.
He was 70 and is survived by wife, veteran actress Sharmila Tagore, and three children – daughters Soha and Saba and son Saif.
Pataudi was admitted at the Sir Gangaram Hospital here earlier this month and was in the intensive care unit (ICU)
Pataudi was born on Jan 5, 1941, played 46 Test matches for India between 1961 and 1975. He captained 40 of 46 Tests out which India won nine.
He was born in 1941 in Bhopal, to former India captain and the eighth Nawab of Pataudi, Iftikhar Ali Khan, who also played for England, and Sajida Sultan, second daughter of the last ruling nawab of Bhopal.
Cricket was always in Pataudi’s blood.
He spent his formative years at Welham Boys’ School in Dehradun and then went to England like his father to study at Lockers Park Prep School in Hertfordshire, Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford.
A car accident permanently damaged vision in his right eye when he was only 20. This, however, did not affect his widely acclaimed playing skills and few month later he made his international debut.
He made his debut against England in 1961 and scored his maiden ton, a classy 103, in his third Test against England to set-up a 128-run win in Chennai. The innings earned him a berth for the Caribbean tour.
A nasty injury to Nari Contractor, who had to undergo a brain operation after being hit by a Charlie Griffith bouncer, changed Pataudi’s fortunes, who had to miss the first two Tests against the West Indies.
Pataudi, on March 23, 1962, at the age of 21 years and 79 days, became the youngest cricketer to captain any country in a Test match.
The good looking Pataudi made cricket look good as well. For him limited eyesight was never a handicap for him.
Pataudi’s highest, 203 not out, was against against one of the finest fast bowling attacks of Colin Cowdrey’s England at the Ferozeshah Kotla here in his 10th Test match in 1964.
His looks earned his a great female fan following and it was no surprise that one of them was Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore.
After a four-year courtship, they finally tied the knot in 1969 after Sharmila converted to Islam and took the name of Ayesha Sultana. They had three children- Saif , Saba and Soha.
While Saif Ali Khan is one of the hottest Indian actors, his sister Soha Ali Khan also made her mark in films. Saba is a jewellery designer by profession.
Many felt the marriage won’t last long but only death separated them.
“I haven’t given up anything (after marrying Tiger). He is very liberal in his views. I’ve gained a lot of experience and gained another culture, cuisine, and way of dressing. I’ve benefited a lot,” Sharmila once said in an interview.
Pataudi retired from international cricket in 1975 after playing 46 Test matches and scored 2,793 runs at an average of 34.91.
He dabbled in politics, was the cricket team’s manager in 1974-75 and was also an International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee for a brief period and a member of IPL Governing Council.
But his great life was scarred after he was arrested for killing a blackbuck in Jhajjar in 2005. He spent few days in jail before being released on bail.
Pataudi, however, had a larger than life image in Indian cricket and connected the young generation with the past.
“It is a terrible loss to the cricketing world. I had the privilege of meeting him on a few occasions. World cricket will miss a hero like him. I really respected him,” said Sachin Tendulkar.
Former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar tweeted; “mansur ali khan pataudi was a real star of indian cricket..even, long after he had retired…we will miss him ! RIP.”
Yuvraj Singh tweeted, “You were always a tiger !! India has lost one of the best captains ever ! Rest in piece ! Respect”.
New BCCI President N Srinivasan also expressed his condolences on Pataudi’s death.
“I am shocked to hear the news of Tiger Pataudi’s demise. He was an exemplary individual, who guided Indian cricket to unprecedented heights, as batsman, fielder and captain. He revolutionised fielding standards in the Indian team, and across the country.”
“In an age wherein a draw was considered as good as a win, Tiger Pataudi encouraged his players to go flat out for victory. He was an aggressive batsman who excelled in crisis situations, and showed the nation how to combat adversity. I join my colleagues in the BCCI to express my condolences at his passing away. His services to Indian cricket will never be forgotten”, wrote Srinivasan.