The one eyed Hero- Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi
Mansoor Ali Khan, the Ninth Nawab of Pataudi was a man who dared to differ. He outdid himself when he captained the Indian Cricket Team with his one eyed vision at the age of 21.
Mohamed Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi or Tiger Pataudi- his nickname in the cricket world was born on 5th January, 1941 in Bhopal. He was the son of Iftikhar Ali Khan, eight Nawab of Pataudi and his wife Sajida Sultan, second daughter of the last ruling Nawab of Bhopal. At the age of 11 Mansoor succeeded as the ninth and the last Nawab of Pataudi after his father’s accidental death in a polo match. He held his title until the 26th Amendment of the Constitution of India abolished royal entitlements in 1971.
It was only obvious that being from an aristocratic background, Mansoor would have the fortune of getting an elitist education. He was educated at the AMC Minto Circle School in Aligarh and then went to Welham Boy’s School in Dehradun, Lockers Park Preparatory school in Hertfordshire, England where he was groomed to become one of the greatest cricket players ever.
At a very early age, Mansoor showcased his cricketing skills; he captained his school team in 1959 scoring 1,068 runs that season, beating the school record sent in 1919 by Douglas Jardine. This must have been an epic moment for him considering the fact that his father and Jardine had a falling out over the rules of bodyline bowling. He also won the public schools rackets championship with partner Christopher Snell.
It was during this glorious phase that Mansoor met with a horrific car accident in 1960 and lost his vision in one eye. A splinter had entered his one eye making him visually handicapped forever. But this did not stop him from pursuing his passion for cricket.
“It took me a while to realize I had virtually lost the use of one eye, but even then never for an instant did I consider I might not be able to play cricket again”
This quote says it all, for Mansoor nothing else mattered but his love for the game. He refused to see the situation as a dead end irrespective of his eye injury. H e persisted and preserved and not only succeeded but also brought to his batting a sense of style and manner that made the onlookers forget his handicap.
The accident had made his everyday life a little uncomfortable. With vision in only one eye he found it difficult to assess distance between objects. But gradually he got adjusted to his eyesight and performed all actions with ease. He worked on his batting skills for long hours under George Cod, the Sussex coach.
Soon after that Mansoor made his first Test debut playing against England in Delhi in December 1961. He scored 103 runs in the Third Test in Madras, helping India to its first series win against England. In March 1962, he became the captain of the Indian Cricket Team for the fourth test in Barbados. Thus becoming Test Cricket’s youngest captain at the age of 21. As of 2011 he still remains the youngest Cricket captain in the country. He made his career’s highest score of 203 runs against England in Delhi on February 12th, 1964. Under his captaincy India won the first ever Test match against New Zealand in 1968. He played 46 matches for India from 1961-1975.His total score was 2793 runs at a test batting average of 34.91, including 6 test centuries.
Off the field Mansoor was known to be a stylish, chivalrous and charming (this being the obvious outcome of royal blood). He met Sharmila Tagore, a well established Hindi film actress, through mutual friends. It is said that he was smitten by her the very first time. Despite the obvious attraction between the two ultra-glamorous personalities it took four years for him to win her heart. They finally got married to each other on December27th, 1969 after facing resentments from both families.
The two of them had three children- Saif, Soha and Saba Ali Khan.
After retiring from cricket he tried his hand at electoral politics, edited a sports magazine and briefly became an expert commentator. He chose to be away from the corporatization of cricket in recent times.
In 2005 he was arrested for poaching blackbuck deer which is a protected species. He was released on bail after two days.
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was a man of substance, a symbol of true sportsmanship and royalty. He would be fondly remembered by everyone.