Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi is no more. My mind turned to this man after the shocking defeat in Australia today.
Pataudi was no ordinary cricketer. He was the son of Iftekar Ali Pataudi known as the Nawab of Pataudi (Sr) who had the distinction of playing for both England and India. On his test debut against Australia the senior Pataudi hit 102. He also led India against England on their 1946 tour of that country. That was one of the best tours of England by an Indian team.
The Nawab of Pataudi (Jr) made his debut against Ted Dexter’s MCC
Pataudi had lost one eye in a car accident and not many know that he had a glass eye and as such he played with only one eye. In 134 years of cricket history, this is the only occasion of a player playing cricket on the International stage with only one eye. This is because Pataudi was a genius and this was reflected in his batting, wher he was our best player of fast bowling. In the 1966 test at Mumbai against the West Indies, Charlie Griffith (the man who had felled Contractor with a beamer earlier in the West Indies) and Wesley Hall were on fire. India’s score read 14/3 when Pataudi stepped in. The Bombay crowd was silent and young boys were praying that India should not be routed. Pataudi set the record straight by cutting and hooking Hall and Griffith, in a pasting they never forgot.
Pataudi was equally successful against Australia and England on their home grounds. The swing and swerve of
Pataudi captained India in 40 test matches and it was during this period that India started winning test matches. He led India to 9 wins including wins against formidable teams like Australia and West indies. His captaincy had a flair, which marked him as a great leader of men. No wonder he is recognized as India greatest captain. He was a dare-devil and took decisions that benefitted the team. He also groomed a succession of players like Vishwanath, Bedi, Prasanna, Rusi Surti, Chandrasekhar and Gavaskar who went on to do yeoman service for India.
Pataudi was an agile fielder in an age when Indian fielding was slip shod and earned the title Tiger. He was a veritable tiger, aggressive and fierce who batted like a champion and captained as a Nawab. Pataudi’s name will forever be inscribed in gold in cricket’s hall of fame. The MCC and the Indian Board have recognized the greatness of Pataudi by instituting the Pataudi trophy for the India –MCC series. When Pataudi handed the trophy to the winning captain Strauss, nobody expected that the legend would pass away so soon. All I can say is farewell Pataudi, you were one of the Legends of Indian cricket and we hope that Indian cricket will rise up further and that will be the tribute to you sir, God be with you. One wishes the present lot can take a leaf from his book.