Remembering the Nawab of Indian Cricket 'Tiger' Masoor Ali Khan Pataudi
If statistics were a true measure of greatness then the Nawab of Pataudi, Mansoor Ali Khan would perhaps not feature among the greats of Indian cricket. Yet, the fact remains that Pataudi compared to his contemporaries, like Jaisimha, Borde, Contractor is more then a mere foot note in cricket history, but a man who is recognised as the forerunner of the modern Indian cricket team.
Pataudi is the first Indian cricketer who brought the element of agression into the game. One can recollect that during the 1967-68 test series an incident in the Bombay test is worth recounting. Vijay Merchant the then chairman of the selection committee told Pataudi that as he had lost the toss, India would lose the test match. Pataudi retorted that in case that was the view of the Chairmn of the Selectors, then there was no point in playing the test match, and the Australians may be declared the winners straightaway. This showed the fighting qualities of the man who earned the nick name of "tiger".
Tiger Pataudi was a Muslim, but he wore his patriotism on his sleeve. Once he was asked by a British reporter whether he felt discriminated in India as he was a Muslim. His reply was simple and to the point as he said " i will challange anybody to say that". Pataudi was the best captain India had. he played at a time when the game was not so commercialised andd there was very little money in it. But he played for the love of the game.
As a young boy I watched Pataudi bat against Tony Lewis MCC cricket team in the Madras test match. India won mainly because of a glorious 73 by Pataudi. I watched Pataudi as he effortlessly lifted the spinners over the ropes and hooked the pace men with aplomb. I did not at that time know, that Pataudi was batting with just one functional eye, having lost one eye in a car accident in England. In the history of the game there has never been a successful batsman who faced up to the fastest bowlers like Hall , Griffith, Mckenzie and Truman with so much ease, with just one eye. One English cricketer Colin Milburn lost an eye in an car accident and tried to emulate Pataudi, unfortunately he came a cropper and had to give up cricket. Thus the feat of Pataudi of playing wih one eye is something rare in the world of sports and is further testimony to his greatness as a player.
Pataudi was an astute captain and led India to its first ever victory overseas against New Zealand in 1968. I don't think India won a series in New Zealand after that and is testimony to his skill as captain. He made excellent use of the spinners Prassana and Bedi and India won the series 3-1. Earlier on the Australian tour he surprised Australian commentators and the public witha fantastic display of batting. The Aussies were astonished to learn that he was batting with just one eye. One can't imagine how he could cart the Aussie pacemen over the ropes with superb timing. It is worth noting that on this tour all Indian batsmen including Chandu Borde failed miserably. The only man who supported his skipper was ML Jaishmah who with knocks of 74 and 101 in the third test walked into crickets hall of fame.
Pataudi was an attacking batsman and above all a superb fielder. This at a time when fielding was the low point of the Indian team. It's a pity this great man has not been suitably honored by the board. I think it would be in the fitness of things to rename the Ferozshah Kotla cricket ground after the Nawab of Pataudi.
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