Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi or Tiger Pataudi was arguably the best and the greatest Indian cricket team captain ever. He was the ceremonial Nawab of Pataudi between 1952 and 1971.
Born and brought up in Bhopal, MAK Pataudi finished his schooling from the A.M.U. Minto Circle School of Aligarh and the Welham Boys School of Dehradun. To continue his interests further, he was enrolled in Hertfordshire's Locker's Park Prep School where he got the opportunity to be trained by Frank Woolley. He finally made it to the Winchester College and learnt French and Arabic at Balliol College, Oxford. While his stay in Winchester, he partnered with Christopher Snell and won the public school rackets championship. But what really pushed him in the limelight was when became famous for his play tactics. In 1959, he captained the school's cricket team as the right handed batsman and scored a record-breaker of 108 runs that season.
At the age of 16, this Nawab made a super class debut for Sussex and later became Oxford's first Indian captain at the university. An incident published in The Hindu on May 22, 1961 mentioned by N Ram revealed what form waste Nawab in those days. He asked a fieldsman to pick a target so that he could bat. He pointed out at the car far ahead of the boundary and the next thing he saw was the dent on its roof by Mansoor's stroke. The motorist was so delighted that he took the autograph of his on the plump of the car itself.
It was on 1st July 1961 when he and four of his colleagues sat for some Chinese at the Brighton, after which young Pataudi decided to ride in Robin Waters' Morris 100 while the others wanted to stroll till home. As Mansoor sat on the front seat with Robin, a big car came in the middle of the road and hit them hard. Although both survived, Mansoor Ali fractured his arm and Dr. Davis St Clair Roberts was especially called up to operate on his eye. He even tried using lenses which imparted him 90% of the vision however; he realized it wasn't working for him.
In 1961, in spite of the injury, 6 months later Mansoor Ali Pataudi was back on the grounds and made his test debut in Delhi against the England team. After constant help from the then Sussex coach George Cod and his mother and sister, he adopted his handicap and started to play with some changed body postures and different strategies.
In his Australia tour of 1967-68, where he played glorious innings in spite of his leg injury, Robert Menzies said “With one good eye and one good leg, if you could hit our fast bowlers all over the place, I shudder to think what could have done with two good eyes and two good legs!” It was during this time when he married the ever-beautiful Sharmila Tagore (27 Dec, 1967).
Pataudi was a great captain and a mentor. Many of his team-mates still swear by him. He kept a great record in breaking the shackles and conception of states in an Indian team. For him, it was only worth his time if the batsman knew how to get runs; the bowler knew how to get wickets as he once told to a debutant in cricket who came in from Amritsar. According to Waingankar's words in Guts and Glory, another debutant Karsan Ghavri was once told by some BCCI bigshots to not to play his great game in order to allow Gundappa Viswanath to score runs. The captain (Pataudi) asked him to chuck off the advice and play the way he played when he got into the Indian team after which - the team won. Gundappa Viswanath was disheartened after scoring a duck in his test debut and was scared of being dropped from the team. However, it was Pataudi who assured him that he will be a part of all the test series.
Tiger Pataudi was a great inspiration for many writers. From mentions in the books like the Sunny Day, Quiver of Arrows, Courage Beyond Compare, one can easily guess how inspired people were from him and his efforts. Tony Lewis once said, “It was the speed with which he [Pataudi] spotted a ball to be hit hard, and the sudden variety of scoring strokes that tumbled out, that made him an exceptional talent.” In 1962, Mansoor Ali Pataudi was honoured with the Indian Cricket Cricket of the Year Award followed by Wisdon Cricketer of the Year Award in the consecutive year. He became an author with his autobiography - Tiger’s Tale in the year 1969. It was in 1970 when he was blessed with Saif Ali Khan, his first son who is now a great Bollywood actor. Mansoor Pataudi was also blessed with two daughters namely Soha Ali Khan and Saba Ali Khan.
Mansoor Pataudi played a total of 46 Test matches for India between 1961 and 1975 (out of which he was the captain of 40). He was the skipper when India won its first ever overseas Test series victory against New Zealand. During this span, Tiger Pataudi lost captaincy in the tour against West Indies in 1970-1971 and was out of the game till 1972. Although he returned to the team in 1973, he was dropped in 1975 as a player.
Even after leaving the grounds, he was in complete touch with the game. He spent his time editing the Kolkata-based sports magazine – Sportsworld and was even an ICC referee in 10 ODI’s and two tests. His great sense of humour made him a famous commentator as well. But not many know that he was a great table, flute and harmonium player. He also played a father-son match with Saif (when he was 9) and smashed a couple of windows as well.
In 2011, on 22 September; Mansoor Ali Pataudi was admitted to Sri Ganga Ram Hospital with an acute lung infection which hampered his lungs to exchange oxygen properly. It was a sad day as left for heavens the same day. He was buried at Pataudi (near Delhi) the next day. As per his wish, his eye was donated by his wife. His son -Saif even wanted to write a biography on his father but even he felt that it was an uphill task.
Spouse: Sharmila Tagore
Children: Saif Ali Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Saba Ali Khan
Grandchildren: Ibrahim Ali Khan, Sara Ali Khan
(FAN OF Mr. MANSOOR ALI KHAN PATAUDI)
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