Pataudi: India's visionary and charming captain

Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi

A 'Tiger' on the field and a Nawab off it, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was unarguably one of India's best captains ever and a batsman par excellence even though damaged vision didn't allow him to realise his potential statistically.

The 70-year-old cricketer, who breathed his last on Thursday evening after battling a lung infection, led India in 40 of the 46 Tests he played and would forever be remembered for leading the country to its first Test series win abroad.

Although, in overall analysis, the teams under him won just nine of the 40 matches he led in, Pataudi instilled the belief that victory is possible in a side that was defeatist in its approach especially while playing outside India.

With 2793 runs at an average of 34, which included six hundreds and 16 half centuries, Pataudi's stats are not too impressive but they don't reveal the colossal figure he became in Indian cricket with his fine leadership and extravagant strokeplay.

Son of Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, the last ruling Nawab of Bhopal who captained the country in 1946, the right-handed batsman made his debut for India at the age of 21 in a drawn match against England here in 1961.

Just a few months before his debut, Pataudi had damaged his vision in a car accident but Pataudi still managed to impress with an 103-run knock in the fifth Test of that series, ensuring selection for the tour of the West Indies.

Nari Contractor was leading the side on that tour and Pataudi was merely warming the benches in the first two Tests. But the scene changed dramatically when Contractor got injured during a practice match.

With seniors in the team showing reluctance to take over captaincy, a three-Test old Pataudi was handed the leadership reins and he held on to that position for nearly a decade.

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