Former India captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi 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,
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
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
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 children 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
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.