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End of innings for Nawab of Cricket

It is hard and almost impossible for me to bare my emotions and write what I feel at this loss, not just for me and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi's family, but the entire nation, writes Abbas Ali Baig. Tiger Pataudi dead | Pay your tributes | Video: Tiger Pataudi no morevideo | Pataudi, thinking cricketer and inspiring leader

india Updated: Sep 23, 2011 08:35 IST
Abbas Ali Baig

It is hard and almost impossible for me to bare my emotions and write what I feel at this loss, not just for me and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi's family, but the entire nation.

As someone who has shared some of the best moments of his life with the cricketing legend, be it socialising with him or playing as his teammate at Oxford University, I would say Indian cricket has lost a man who served it in its most difficult time with great commitment, tact and dignity. The life and times of Tiger Pataudi

When I first met Pataudi, fondly known as Tiger, at Oxford, he was straight out of school — a young, innocent, shy and reserved boy and almost aloof. But on the cricket field, he had a different persona.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/MAK-PATAUDI.jpg

His batting did not have any resemblance to the traditional, orthodox British school of cricket. He was unorthodox, purely instinctive and a wonderful judge of the line and length of the ball.

Equally amazing was his fielding, though he would never train for it. Perhaps it had to do with his being immensely fit.

He was the first cricketer from India who would slide, dive and chase the ball in the outfield, something which many Indian players are shy of doing even now.

His personality changed a lot when we toured the West Indies with an English team under EW Swanton in the early sixties. It was on that tour that he became a social animal, who would with his riposte and one-liners become the soul of a gathering. Captain Pioneer

I think a lot has been written about his contribution towards Indian cricket and how he molded the team into a strong bunch.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/mak.jpg

What, for me, stands out in the man is not that he led India, something which might have had to do with the socio-academic background he came from, though it obviously was not handed over to him on a platter.

It is what he made of the job given to him. He showed tremendous understanding of the job he was doing and did not follow the hackneyed path which would not have taken Indian cricket anywhere in the cricketing world.

Instead, he innovated a lot, showed tremendous imagination and his great contribution has been the nurturing of the spin quartet and the direction he gave them.

He probably realised very early in his captaincy that India had no fast bowlers, but quality spinners and he pushed them, at times even all four of them, to play in the XI. ‘He was not understood’

What was equally remarkable was the loyalty he commanded from the spin quartet which augured well for the team.

I do feel sad that after Patudi's playing career was over, he was not utilised by the cricketing establishment as much as he should have been.

He had a lot to offer, given his acumen, tactical knowledge and the respect he had in the cricketing world.

Even at the risk of repeating myself, I would not hesitate to say that Indian cricket has today lost not just one of its greatest ambassadors, but its soul as well.