The editorial, and the two articles, “A courageous and sincere leader” and “The dashing prince of Indian cricket” (Sept. 23), were elegant pieces of prose. ‘Tiger' Pataudi's words that “We are not playing for Bombay, Delhi, Madras or Mysore…we are playing for India …we are playing for India. For goodness sake, think India,” reflect his patriotism, commitment and motivation. His courteous behaviour, both on and off the field, and his never-say-die attitude, need to be emulated by one and all who aspire to scale greater heights.
B. Suresh Kumar,
The Hindu , with a prominent front-page report, a succinct editorial, a moving tribute titled “A nawab at the crease, a Tiger on the field,” and an entire page in “Sport”, has honoured Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi in the best possible manner, highlighting key aspects like his personal charm, amazing batting prowess, superb fielding, laudable cricketing acumen and great leadership qualities.
I still remember a Ranji match against Andhra in Vijayawada when he was dropped on 16. All were happy that they would have one more chance to see him play. He smashed a masterly 120-odd.
Prasad V. Allavarapu,
I was doing the commentary when ‘Tiger' played in Vijayawada in November 1970 as a member of the Jaisimha-led Hyderabad Ranji team against Andhra. Pataudi hit the headlines not with any feat with the bat, but for pulling out a stump and chasing away a bull that had strayed into the ground. It was a royal tiger vs an innocent bull, much to the delight of everyone. When a journalist asked him why Borde did not bowl much in a match, pat came the reply: “The captain did not ask him to.”
A. Prasanna Kumar,
In 1970, when princely titles and the privy purse were abolished, the scorebook entry of “Nawab of Pataudi, junior” became simply “M.A.K. Pataudi.”
He was the first Indian captain to emphasise the importance of fielding, throwing, and catching, and who worked heroically to challenge sectarian tendencies.
Statistics may not truly reveal many of his great knocks, especially during the 1967 Australian series. He was the most successful batsman during the tour which India lost 0-4 to a far superior Australian team packed with many greats led by Bobby Simpson. Moreover in his come-back series as captain in the 1974-75 series against the West Indies, his deft handling of his spinners and bold leadership led him to win the Calcutta and Madras tests after trailing 0-2. India lost the series in the decider only because of the great knock by the Windies captain Lloyd in Bombay.
‘Tiger' Pataudi became the ‘Royal Bengal Tiger' thanks to the very elegant Ms Sharmila Tagore. They were a very charming couple who once came in TV advertisements.
I was really lucky to watch the Calcutta test match of the 1974-75 series between India and the West Indies at the Eden Gardens. At the start of the game on the final day, ‘Tiger' instead of giving the ball to the medium pacer, threw it to B.S. Chandrasekhar which really proved to be a master stroke. I can never forget that final day when Chandrasekhar, justifying the confidence reposed in him by the captain, demolished the Windies.
It was in the early 1970s when I was staying at the YMCA hostel in Secunderabad. One evening a friend Vijayan told us that ‘Tiger' was seen eating at the nearby Garden Restaurant, famous for its biriyani . We refused to believe it. Another friend, Jacob, bet that it was a lie. To settle it we all went to the restaurant and there he was greatly enjoying a meal in a grubby cubicle. We were stunned!
‘Tiger' once came to Cannanore (Kannur) in the 1960s, and revealed his magic at the Fort maidan . An uncle would describe to me how people would throng the Cliff Hotel, where he was staying, just to get his autograph. He calmly obliged all with his stylish mannerisms and puffing umpteen cigarettes standing below a huge banyan tree. People came from as far as Tellicherry, 21 km away to see this “ordinary guy who mixed with everyone.” He even told my uncle to “watch a guy named G.R.Vishwanath when he comes here to play for Karnataka against Kerala in the Ranji matches.”
I had the privilege of watching him leading India against the West Indies in the 1966-67 series at Eden Gardens. Though India lost the Test by an innings and 45 runs, it was memorable. First, riots broke out after police mercilessly beat a middle-aged man in the middle of the ground. Then, a fire broke out among the jute hessians that covered the ground. I saw West Indies cricketer Conrad Hunt save both the national flags of India and the West Indies. If I'm not wrong, Pataudi scored two runs each in both innings but in the West Indies innings he caught Rohan Kanai for 90 and got Basil Butcher.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,
After retirement too, he was an expert commentator for DD Sports. In 1984, he was summing up the achievements in the field of sports for the year. He said, “The find of the year is Mohamed Azharuddin. He may be the find of the decade too. He is original and has whiplash strokes that keep the fielders in suspense till the last moment. But I must add that Azharuddin is not a product of our cricketing system but has come up in spite of our system.”
In 1971, I was walking across the Secunderabad parade ground when I saw ‘Tiger' watching polo. I ran up to him and asked him for an autograph. As he was talking to someone else, he asked me to wait. I was humming an old Hindi tune, when he turned to me and asked: Do you know its raag ?” I managed to blurt it out and he smiled, asking me to learn Hindustani music. I replied that I listened to the “Sangeetha Sarita” programme on Vividh Bharathi.
I was posted at the Area HQ in Madras and wangled a permanent pavilion pass for all cricket matches at Chepauk. I had just had the thrilling experience of witnessing Pataudi's mercurial fielding which always reached a level of “subliminal beauty” like his batting, for South Zone in their Duleep Trophy match against the North Zone. North Zone were all out and soon South Zone went in to bat. A few minutes later ‘Tiger' walked into the pavilion and for no apparent reason sat next to me, elegantly lit a cigarette and said to me, “Hello, sir.” I asked him, “‘Tiger,' when are you going down to bat?” He replied, “ Pata nahin yaar, mein jawoonga, jab Venkat mujhe bejega. ” Venkatraghavan was captaining South Zone.
Col. C.V. Venugopalan (retd.),
In a test match against England, a black dog entered the Eden Gardens, and when India was fielding. It approached ‘Tiger,' wagging its tail. Pataudi was seen asking the dog to move out, pointing out the direction. But it started to bark at him in a friendly manner. The game was halted. Devaraj Puri, the radio commentator, said that “a four-legged intruder with a tail was with Pataudi and asking him his position on the field.” Later, security shooed away the dog. Though it was not the TV-era, radio listeners could understand what was going on. The Hindu and Sports Week published photographs of the incident.
To quote “Hamlet,” he was “the glass of fashion.” What Neville Cardus said about Ranjitsinghji fits well for Pataudi: “prince of a small state, but king of a great game.”
As a child cricket enthusiast in the early 1970s, and as there was no television then, I used to collect photographs of ‘Tiger' Pataudi with captions such as, “Pataudi drives,” “Tiger hooks,” “Nawab sweeps,” for my cricket album. I used to play street cricket in Mylapore imitating his stroke play much to the chagrin of my peers. Later, with the advent of TV and when Pataudi became an expert cricket commentator, I used to listen to his impeccable English spoken with great diction and style. He was Indian cricket's Clint Eastwood.