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When the Tiger ruled cricket

Special Correspondent
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HER PRINCE:Actor Sharmila Tagore releases the book on her charismatic husband.— PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.
HER PRINCE:Actor Sharmila Tagore releases the book on her charismatic husband.— PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

It was an evening suffused with nostalgia’s warmth, remembrance and anecdotes as the book, Pataudi: Nawab of Cricket , had its Bangalore launch at the Taj West End on Saturday.

Sports writer Suresh Menon — who edited the anthology that features leading players, journalists and a sublime actor like Naseeruddin Shah sharing their insights about India’s former cricket captain — spoke about his own I-was-there moment of being at the Central College Ground while tailing Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi for an autograph. “He offered us catching practice and I became cricket-obsessive at that moment,” Mr. Menon said.

The gracious actor Sharmila Tagore, who released the book on her late husband, spoke about the man who wooed her. “He had that strange British accent and would laugh at his own jokes!”

Cricket historian Ramachandra Guha and later India’s wicket-keeping legend Syed Kirmani regaled the audience with their Pataudi stories. Mr. Guha lauded the sheer will power that defined Pataudi’s success in cricket despite losing an eye in an accident. “Pataudi, after C.K. Nayudu, was the first non-parochial Indian captain. We have had Mumbai captains, Delhi captains and Tamil captains but Pataudi was the first truly Indian captain.”

Mr. Kirmani shared his views on Pataudi the prankster. “He once nudged Hyderabad player Manohar Sharma into the swimming pool. And I also remember the way he and M.L. Jaisimha used to train their throws by aiming at beer bottles kept on a railing!”

And the evening ebbed away, many old-timers joined the conversation and shared their own tales of the 1960s and ’70s when Tiger ruled Indian cricket.

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