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Nawab of Indian Cricket

On March 23, 1962, at the age of 21 years and 79 days, Tiger Patudi became the youngest cricketer to captain any country in a Test match and went on during his career to lead to its first ever overseas series win.

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Former India captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who dies from lung infection today, always played the game with a straight bat and was equally forthright off the field.
He will be remembered as the Tiger who preyed with one eye.
Born in 1941 in Bhopal, to former India captain and the eighth Nawab of Pataudi, Iftikhar Ali Khan, who also played for England, and Sajida Sultan, second daughter of the last ruling nawab of Bhopal, cricket was always in Pataudi's blood.
He was one of the best educated Indian cricketers. He spent his formative years at Welham Boys' School in Dehradun and then went to England like his father to study at Lockers Park Prep School in Hertfordshire, Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford.
He lost his father on his 11th birthday while Iftikhar was playing polo. But Iftikar, who captained India in 1946, was a constant source of inspiration in Tiger's life.
Pataudi suffered another setback 10 years later, when he lost the vision of his right eye after a car crash in England. But a steely resolve saw him making his international debut a few month later against the formidable Ted Dexter's England in Delhi, in December, 1961.
Once asked by a journalist, how he played with one eye, Pataudi said: "In I fact see two balls. I hit the one on the inside."
Like his father, Pataudi couldn't get a century on debut but achieved his maiden ton, a classy 103, in his third Test against England to set-up a 128-run win in Chennai. He never looked in discomfort playing with one eye, and swotted the fast bowlers with ease. The innings earned him a berth for the Caribbean tour.
The presence of Polly Umrigar, Nari Contractor and Vijay Manjrekar made it difficult for Pataudi to find a place in the final eleven in the West Indies and he had to miss the first two Tests, in which India suffered humiliating defeats. 
But a nasty injury to Contractor, who had to undergo a brain operation after being hit by a Charlie Griffith bouncer, changed Pataudi's fortunes. There was bickering in the team and none of the seniors were willing to take up the responsibility of leading the side. 
They found a leader in Pataudi, who on March 23, 1962, at the age of 21 years and 79 days, became the youngest cricketer to captain any country in a Test match. 
The next 13 years were known as the Pataudi era during which he went on to re-write India's cricketing history by captaining the side to its first ever overseas series win, when they defeated New Zealand 3-1 in 1967-68, at a time when a draw was considered as a win. 
Under him, India played some good cricket and got the confidence of beating big teams overseas. The spin quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, S. Venkatraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna also flourished under his captaincy.
For Pataudi, limited eyesight was never a handicap, but flighted spin and tear-away pace occasionally troubled him. But the good looking Pataudi always made cricket look good. Pataudi was also a great fielder and set benchmarks for his fellow players.
Pataudi's highest, 203 not out, was against against one of the finest fast bowling attacks of Colin Cowdrey's England at the Ferozeshah Kotla here in his 10th Test match in 1964. The same year he was conferred the Arjuna Award. He emulated his father in 1968 when he was named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year, his father having received the honour in 1932.
Pataudi also emulated his father in 1968 when he got a hundred in his first Test against Australia. He was compared to Robert Loius Stevenson's fictional character Long John Silver after he braved a hamstring injury to make gritty 75 and 85 at Melbourne in 1967-68. 
In 1969, Pataudi got married to top Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore after a four-year courtship. They had three childreen Saif Ali Khan, Saba Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan. Both Saif and Soha followed their mother's footsteps in films while Saba became a jewellery designer.
Pataudi retired from international cricket in 1975 after playing 46 Test matches and scored 2,793 runs at an average of 34.91. He got his six hundreds in his first 22 Tests but couldn't add one in the next 24. He led the country in 40 of his 46 Tests and guided the team to nine wins and was easily the greatest captain ever.
Pataudi preferred to stay away from the limelight after his retirement. He dabbled in politics, was the cricket team's manager in 1974-75 and was also an International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee for a brief period.
Pataudi was also a part of the Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL) but never enjoyed it. He also dragged the board to the court over his dues.
His spotless career was scarred after he was arrested for killing a blackbuck in Jhajjar in 2005. He spent few days in jail before being released on bail.

 

Prince Among Cricketers

Pataudi was the most admired India cricket captain. He led the country in 40 of his 46 Tests he played and most players who played with him insist that he was easily the greatest captain ever. He was a prince among cricketers.

Popularly known as Tiger, Pataudi was the first captain to make players of his generation feel they were no inferior to anyone in the world cricket. His teammates, who were divided and identified on regional lines, were made to realise that they were representing their country and not their linguistic states. He made them speak only in Hindustani, if not English. He drilled into their minds that they could beat any team if they played for each other and that bonding did wonders for Indian cricket. Under his captaincy the first Test victory overseas was achieved in New Zealand in 1967-68. 
Captaincy was thrust on him at a tender age of 21 in difficult circumstances when captain Nari Contractor was felled by lethal bouncer on the 1961-62 tour of West Indies. He himself was recovering and getting adjusted to a vision impairment in his right eye after a car accident in England. 
He was the first captain to seriously believe that India could take the world on with its mesmerising spinners when you don't have real fast bowlers. For the next decade or so, Indian went into Tests with three spinners and it worked wonderfully well. Bishan Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna are never tired of narrating how well they felt bowling under his captaincy. 
A dashing batsman, he made a virtue of hitting even express fast bowlers over the infield. He was a brilliant fielder to boot. He gave a terrific chase if he thought he could retrieve the ball and never bothered to waste energy by escorting a ball to the boundary. All this with one perfect eye and a partial vision in the other. If only he had complete sight he could have been a greater cricketer. 
He made his Test debut in 1961 soon after his car mishap and that did not prevent him from scoring a century in his first Test against Australia to emulate his father Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi playing for England. The senior Pataudi captained India on their tour of England in 1946, barely 16 years before his son got into the hot seat.
He made his Ranji Trophy debut for Delhi, but soon realised he had got into a snake pit and soon shifted to Hyderabad, where he was more at home playing in the company of and under the captaincy of M.L. Jaismiha, one of the greatest strategists never to have lead India, fellow-Oxonian Abbas Ali Baig and Syed Abis Ali, who were all his India teammates. He also captained Oxford and English county Sussex. 
After his playing days were over, he briefly dabbled in politics, contesting 1971 election to the Lok Sabha, more to protest against the abolition of privy purses. He was also Indian team's cricket manager in 1974-75 and acted as an International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee. He was also on the general council of the Indian Premier League (IPL), but he clearly did not relish these jobs. 
He could have easily been a great commentator with his insight, but could not carry on for long. He always spoke his mind out and never minced words when it came to the interest of Indian cricket. He did enough to make his presence felt both on and off the cricket field.

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