One of India’s finest captains, its most dashing and debonair sportsperson, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was one of the rare cricketers whose career had oodles of both grace and grit.
With royal lineage — dad Iftikhar was ruler of Pataudi, mom Sajida was daughter of the ruler of Bhopal, Mansoor is born on Jan 5, 1941. But life gets a jolt when, at 11, he loses dad to a freak polo accident.
Loses eye, not guts
While studying at Oxford, he meets with a car accident that damages his right eye. Unimpeded, the 20-year-old is back at the nets, learning to play with one eye. Debuts in Delhi against England in December 1961. A month later, hits his maiden ton, 113 against England in Chennai.
Young and Powerful
Becomes captain at just 21 yrs 77 days. India are touring WI in ’62, when regular skipper Nari Contractor is injured. Tiger’s elevated and becomes the youngest Test captain. Makes a career-best 203* vs England at Delhi.
India drew, rarely won. But Tiger instills self-belief and leads India to their first overseas series win (a 3-1 win), in New Zealand in 1968. Recognises spin as India’s strength and builds the team around it. “He could decide on the spot,” says Salim Durrani, his India teammate.
The last years on the field
His stint as captain ends in early 1971 when Ajit Wadekar replaces him. For some reason, he declines to tour England under Wadekar both in ’71 & ’74. Becomes captain again in ’74 after India’s 0-3 humiliation in England.
Post-cricket not much of it
Plays final Test in Jan ’75 scoring nine in each innings. Serves as match referee between ’93 & ’96 and edits a sports magazine. Serves on IPL Governing Council briefly but largely stays away from cricket administration.