When I lost my left eye in an accident in 1995, it was the success stories of two eminent personalities that gave me confidence to live on. One was the poet, John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained after becoming visually handicapped, and the other was Mansoor Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, who lost his right eye in a car accident and proved to be a great cricketer, even though both eyes are needed to gauge distance. Though ‘Tiger' is no more, his legacy will be remembered by many, particularly by people like me.
Ravikumar Stephen J.,
An interesting episode I remember about Pataudi happened during the Kotla Test in 1969. On the eve of the Test, Australian captain Bill Lawry said: “Would like to finish the match in four days and go for fishing at Okhla.” Yes, India won the Test in four. After the Test, Captain ‘Tiger' Pataudi said of Bill Lawry: “Now he can go for fishing.”
Pataudi as captain averted what could have been a riotous situation in Calcutta during the fourth Test against Australia in 1969. The crowd became restive and started indulging in arson when the home team was on the verge of losing the match rather badly. With 42 runs needed for an outright Australian victory and sensing the trouble brewing in the stands, ‘Tiger' told the rival captain and opening batsman, Bill Lawry, to finish off the match quickly. It was reported in The Hindu and the Nawab was appreciated for the presence of mind. Pataudi instructed his bowlers Guha and Wadekar — never a bowler — to finish off the match quickly and they in fact bowled only five overs between them.
Few would recall it today but Pataudi sought to erase the stark regional identities which cricketers carried as baggage in those days by insisting that everybody should speak in English, and if they could not cope with the language, then it should be Hindustani — a patois of street Urdu and Hindi.
As the youngest captain ever, Pataudi instilled a lot of confidence among his teammates and moulded them as a fine winning unit. Overcoming his physical challenge, ‘Tiger' proved to the world that he could deal with fiery fast-bowling attacks with awesome ease. The famed and feared Indian spin quartet — Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrashekhar and Venkat — blossomed under his captaincy and is still a saga in Indian cricket.
How many of our present day cricketers, though older, show the maturity shown by Patuadi at the age of 21? Some lose their temper for silly matters and even engage in open fights. Many vices like match-fixing, factional feuds, egotism and parochialism have crept into Indian cricket. Let them try to emulate at least some of his qualities.
As a young cricket fan of 10 years or so, I had gone to the Eden Gardens to see the India versus New Zealand Test match. The Nawab played in his usual flamboyant style and hit a four to reach 153. We were shouting ourselves hoarse when, on the very next ball, he lifted one towards mid wicket. We watched in horror as two fielders sprinted for the prize catch. They crashed into one another, but the ball was not dropped. Even while the umpire's finger was going up, ‘Tiger' was headed towards the pavilion amidst thunderous applause. He had won over our hearts forever.
As a stroke-player, Pataudi has few peers in the history of cricket and he richly deserves to be described as a right-handed Garry Sobers. Whether flicking the ball off the toes or executing an exquisite straight drive or an aesthetic cover-drive, ‘Tiger' was incredibly magnificent. In 1967, Pataudi made a masterly 147 against England in the first Test at Leeds which the BBC broadcasters, led by the legendary John Arlot, rated as far classier than the unbeaten 246 made by Geoff Boycott in the same Test.
T.S. Pattabhi Raman,
It is sad that Pataudi, the Father of Indian cricket and one of the best captains of the last century is no more. His unbeaten 203 against England in New Delhi in 1964, 103 against England at Madras and 128 not out against Australia at the Nehru Stadium in 1964 are monumental achievements.
Keywords: Mansoor Ali Khan