Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, aka tiger the immaculately dressed Englishman in Indian skin breathed his last. He listened to another Englishman who said – the age to die is ‘3 score and 10’. Well Tiger lived to the age of 70. Like in life, so in death, he was perfect.
I saw him on a couple of ocassions – once sitting across a few tables in a restaurant in Mumbai….and I could not notice his ‘artificial’ right eye. Of course for those who saw him on the field, he was really a Tiger. His fielding was good, but it was difficult for the Bombay commentators like Vijay Merchant to be liberal in their praise. Compared to today’s Indian team he is perhaps one of the few who could have been considered to be fielder, at all!!
He captained India in the 1972-73 series against the mighty West Indies (Clive Loyd was just building his invincible team, Viv Richards making his debut)…and most of us were readying for white wash. Well it was 2-2 going to the Bombay test. The Bombay test was a draw till the end of the 5th day. However on the 6th day West Indies won the match and the series. Our other great captains like Ajit Wadekar and Sunil Gavaskar would have SURELY lost 4-0. Tiger’s aggressive captaincy – with long spells for Pras and Bedi and smart captaincy paved the way for a fantastic series. I had just started following cricket…and the tiger was well entrenched.
Two unforgettable incidents on the cricketing field….
The first must have been unnerving for a kid…Nari Contractor hit by a ball..and taken to the hospital with a crack on the head. In Tiger’s own words…’I had no clue how the first ball I faced buzzed past me..and where it went. ..The next ball, I knew where it went – it was a straight drive for four’ . Amazing guts, no doubt about it. The story was told to me by Nari Contractor’s son (sorry forgot his name, same college, he was a year or two senior).
The second incident shows his refusal to be cowed down by the white skin..He had just scored a 204 against England. An English scribe asked him ‘Mr. Pataudi, when after losing your right eye, did you think you will score a DOUBLE hundred?’ – and Pat (pun intended!) came the reply ‘When I saw the English bowling’.
Well the current English team may not appreciate this joke especially after a 7-0 drubbing that they handed out!
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