A prince among cricketers and an inspiring leader, he transformed Indian cricket

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, one of India's greatest cricket captains ever and whose flair and acumen inspired a generation of cricke t players, passed away here on Thursday after battling a lung infection for the last few months.

The 70-year-old cricketer, one of India's early superstars and who was known as ‘Tiger' in the cricket fraternity, was suffering from interstitial lung disease, a condition in which the passage of oxygen to the two lungs is less than normal.

He is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, actor son Saif Ali Khan and two daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan.

His entire family was at his bedside when the end came at 5.55 p.m.

“He passed away around 5.55 p.m. His condition had deteriorated since yesterday. He was suffering from interstitial lung disease (interstitial pneumonitis) which worsens rapidly in spite of the best treatment available,” Dr. S.P. Byotra, Department of Medicine in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said.

“He was unable to maintain his oxygen level in spite of maximal treatment. He continued to remain in the ICU for nearly a month. He had this disease which had been static for the last three months and worsened very acutely over the last four weeks,” the doctor said.

Pataudi was given leadership of the Test team in his fourth Test, when he was only 21, in Barbados in 1962, because the captain Nari Contractor was in hospital after getting hit on the head by Charlie Griffith.

Pataudi, who was also known for his amazing sense of humour, was the youngest Test captain, a record that stood until 2004. He led India in 40 Tests and had a successful career despite impaired vision in the right eye, which was damaged in a car accident. He also captained Sussex and Oxford University.

He scored 2,793 runs in 46 Tests at an average of just under 35 and made six centuries, the biggest of which was an unbeaten 203 against England in Delhi in 1964.

However, many experts rate his 75 against Australia in Melbourne in 1967-68 as his finest since he played that knock with an injured leg. Pataudi retired in 1975 after West Indies' tour of India. After retirement, Pataudi served as a match referee between 1993 and 1996, officiating in two Tests and ten ODIs, but largely stayed away from cricket administration. Under Pataudi's captaincy, India won nine Tests. It was he who instilled the belief in the team that it could win international matches. India achieved its first overseas Test victory under him, against New Zealand in Dunedin in 1968. India then went on to record its first overseas series win by beating New Zealand 3-1.

Pataudi was the ninth and last Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when the Indian government abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment to the Constitution.

Since 2007, bilateral Test series between India and England have been contested for the Pataudi Trophy, named after his family for their contribution to Anglo-Indian cricket.

Pataudi's father, Iftikhar Ali Khan, represented both England and India in Tests. Pataudi had taken ill since his return from England this summer after presenting the Pataudi Trophy to Andrew Strauss at the end of the four-Test series.

He was also a part of the first IPL governing council but refused to continue in the role in October 2010, when the BCCI made significant changes to the league following the sacking of Lalit Modi as its chairman.

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