From Losing An Eye To Becoming India’s Youngest Captain – Tiger Pataudi

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was all about grace, charisma, confidence, and the willingness to achieve success in the most arduous situations. There was an aura about how he conducted himself both on and off the field. Some of his contemporaries were in awe of Tiger, as people found it hard to take their eyes off him. It was probably due to his on-field presence that he was conferred with the title of ‘Tiger’. In his autobiography, MAK Pataudi alludes to his resemblance with Tiger, saying “I had a tigerish propensity for crawling energetically about the floor on all fours.”

He was a brilliant fielder, someone who was way ahead of his time in this aspect of his game. His commitment on the field was second to none.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi’s eye injury

Tiger Pataudi’s accident had a significant impact on his entire cricket career. He lost sight in his right eye in a car accident while traveling in England in 1961. However, he didn’t let this hinder his vision to play for India.

Batting with one eye was always problematic for Tiger as he would at times spot two balls coming towards him. “I see two balls. I hit the one on the inside,” he replied on being asked about how he coped with lack of sight.

Despite his unfortunate disability, Pataudi could still carve out an image for himself in the cricket history of India. Many still believe that had he played and batted with a complete vision, he would have been a different beast altogether.

 Tiger Pataudi

Tiger Pataudi and his impact on Indian cricket – As Captain

He didn’t have the greatest of a career playing cricket at the highest level, but it was his impact during that era of Indian cricket, that still allows people to recognize his contribution to this game. Tiger had a strong personality within the group as the leader of the team. He might be young during his initial days but had the ability to instill confidence, belief, and winning mentality among his players. At 21, Tiger Pataudi became the youngest player to captain India on the international stage. He became an accidental skipper after Nari Contractor was hit of a bouncer by Charlie Griffith. While no other senior player showed courage to lead the side against the mighty West Indies, Pataudi was handed over the captaincy. Though India lost the series 5-0, it marked the beginning of a new phase in Indian cricket under the leadership of Nawab of Pataudi.

Out of his 46 Tests as an India player, Tiger was captain of the team on 40 occasions. Such was his impression within the team that despite some of the senior players (the likes of Salim Durani, ML Jaisimha) in the team, there was never a question about who would lead the side.

It was under his leadership that India secured its first-ever overseas Test series victory in 1968 against New Zealand. He religiously believed in the strength of his team and played three spinners in foreign conditions that helped India emerge victoriously against the Blackcaps. It was during his era that India began to field the famously known spin quartet including the likes of Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi, BS Chandrasekhar, and S Venkataraghavan.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi Stats – The Batsman

An unorthodox batsman with appealing stroke play, he was a crowd puller who could bring people to watch him bat. He had a huge liking ad a great fan following among the girls during his playing days. He never shied away from attempting the lofted shots that would inevitably entice the public to watch him bat.

Tiger didn’t have a long career playing for India. During his nearly 14 years of cricket stint at the highest level, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi played in 46 Tests for India. In 83 innings, Pataudi registered six centuries in his tally of 2793 runs with the highest score of unbeaten 203 against England in 1964. With a middling average of 35, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi Stats were not a great reflection of how good he was as a cricketer.

He was an instinctively attacking batsman who would walk down the pitch and attack spinners. One of his most memorable innings came against Australia at the MCG, though in a losing cause. Coming out to bat at 25/5 with a pulled hamstring, Pataudi played a gritty knock of 75 runs to lift India to 162. His innings were later categorized as played with ‘One leg and One Eye’. Such was the enormity of his efforts that it made it to the Wisden Asia Cricket’s list of Top-25 Indian Test innings at 14th position.

As Sunil Gavaskar later said while delivering the MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture in 2013, Tiger liberated Indian cricket in terms of how the game was played. He brought a mindset change among the players on how to take charge of the situation and play the aggressor’s role in making things on a cricket field.

A Fan Favorite

Tiger Pataudi was definitely a popular figure among his female fans. He was a good-looking man and arguably the most glamorous Indian cricketer during the 1960s. During his playing days, Tiger was dating the leading film star of India – Sharmila Tagore. Later, the duo tied the knot in 1968.

Kartik Bansal

An avid Cricket Follower