Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who overcame an impaired eye to become a visionary and pioneering captain of the Indian Test team, has died in Dehli at the age of 70. He was suffering from interstitial lung disease. He is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, his son Saif Ali Khan and his two daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan. Tagore, Saif and Soha are prominent actors in India’s film industry.
Pataudi 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 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.
India won nine Tests under Pataudi and it was during his tenure that the team began to believe it could succeed. He advocated the multi-spinner strategy because he believed India needed to play to their strengths and used it to achieve their first overseas Test win, in Dunedin in 1968. India went on to record their first away series victory, beating New Zealand 3-1. Pataudi was the Wisden Cricketer of the Year that year.
Pataudi scored 2793 runs 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 rate his 75, scored on one leg with one eye, against Australia in Melbourne in 1967-68 as his finest. 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.
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. 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. Pataudi’s father, Iftikhar Ali Khan, represented both England and India in Tests.
Pataudi had taken ill since his return from England this summer after presenting the Pataudi Trophy to Andrew Strauss at the end of the four-Test series.
Pataudi was also a consultant to the BCCI from 2007 and 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. As the spate of controversies increased, Pataudi was the only member of the governing council to admit the body’s culpability, saying it “failed in its role to monitor the IPL’s administration and be more questioning of decisions taken.” He also took the BCCI to court in April this year, claiming the board had not abided by its contract with him while he was a consultant as well as a member of the IPL governing council.
-With CricInfo/The Daily Star input