Tributes to Tiger Pataudi: India’s Great Cricket Captain

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, arguably India’s greatest cricket captain who led India during 1961-75, passed away this evening in a New Delhi hospital after a prolonged and incurable lung disease. He was 70.

Just before he made his debut for the Indian cricket team in 1961 Pataudi met with a car accident and lost vision completely in his right eye. But with great determination and courage he went ahead and played for India till 1975 making 6 centuries and 16 half centuries. After playing only four cricket tests he was made India’s skipper in 1962 at the young age of 21. Though under him India won only 9 out of 46 tests he led India to the first ever series win abroad when India beat New Zealand 3-1 in 1967. Pataudi was known for bold leadership qualities, agility in the field, powerful batting display, all-round abilities and of course, very good looks and posture. He was properly nicknamed ‘Tiger’ by the India cricket fraternity.

Nostalgic memories are rushing to my mind. We never saw him play cricket as television was not even heard of in our region. As little children crazy for cricket we got glued to radio commentaries when India was playing. We used to get excited by his boundaries and comments on his leadership. We saw his pictures in newspapers and were thoroughly impressed by his hero image. We knew that he was blind in one eye, but we were told that his right eye was of marble which we believed sincerely and always scrutinized the pictures for ‘marble eye’ details. Everything combined, Pataudi influenced us greatly and he remained with us as a cricket hero.

After his retirement in 1975 he was not continuously associated with cricket. He did stints now and then as match referee or commentator. Just about a month ago he appeared in an Indian new channel invited to expert comment on Team India’s English nightmare. He still looked majestic, but something seemed to hold him back.

Tiger Pataudi married famous leading lady of Indian cinema of the sixties-seventies, Sharmila Tagore, in 1969 and so he continued to be in media limelight. His son Saif Ali Khan is a top Bollywood (Hindi Film Industry)  hero and his first daughter Soha Ali Khan is also an acclaimed film actor. 

We deeply mourn the demise of a great personality. Tiger Pataudi will remain in our hearts always. 


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