Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, one of India’s greatest cricket captains ever and whose flair and style captured the imagination of cricket fans, passed away here today after battling a lung infection for the last few months.
‘India’s Greatest Captain’
Pataudi, who lost his right eye because of an accident, played 46 Tests between 1961 and 1975 and was arguably India’s greatest captain. He was given the leadership in his fourth Test, when he was 21, in Barbados in 1962, because the regular captain Nari Contractor was in hospital after getting hit on the head by Charlie Griffith.
Pataudi, who was also known for his amazing sense of humour, was the youngest Test captain, a record that stood until 2004. He led India in 40 Tests and had a successful career despite impaired vision in his right eye, which was damaged in a car accident. He also captained Sussex and Oxford University.
Pataudi scored 2793 runs in 46 Tests at an average of 35 and made six centuries, the biggest of which was an unbeaten 203 against England in Delhi in 1964.
However, many experts rate his 75 against Australia in Melbourne in 1967-68 as his finest since he played that knock with an injured leg. Pataudi retired in 1975 after West Indies’ tour of India.
After retirement, Pataudi served as a match referee between 1993 and 1996, officiating in two Tests and ten ODIs, but largely stayed away from cricket administration.
Under Pataudi’s captaincy, India won nine Tests but it was he who instilled the belief in the team that it could win international matches. India achieved their first overseas Test victory under him, against New Zealand in Dunedin in 1968. India then went on to record their first overseas series win by beating New Zealand 3-1.
Pataudi was the ninth and last Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when the Indian government abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. Pataudi’s father, Iftikhar Ali Khan, represented both England and India in Tests.
In 1964, Pataudi was bestowed the Arjuna Award before being honoured with a Padma Shri in 1967.
He was also the editor of Sportsworld, the now defunct cricket magazine, and a television commentator in the 1980s but gradually withdrew from an active role, though he remained a strong voice in Indian cricket.
Since 2007, bilateral Test series between India and England have been contested for the Pataudi Trophy, named after his family for their contribution to Anglo-Indian cricket.
He was also a part of the first IPL governing council but refused to continue in the role in October 2010, when the BCCI made significant changes to the league following the sacking of Lalit Modi as its chairman.