Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who became the youngest ever captain of India’s national cricket team at age 21, died in a New Delhi hospital where he was being treated for a lung infection. He was 70.
Born in 1941 in Bhopal, the capital of what is now central Madhya Pradesh state, Pataudi led India to the country’s first ever overseas Test match and series victory in 1968. The team beat New Zealand in Dunedin and went on to win the series 3-1.
“In an age where a draw was considered as good as a win, Pataudi encouraged his players to go flat out for victory,” N. Srinivasan, newly elected president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said in an e-mailed statement. “He was an aggressive batsman who excelled in crisis situations, and showed the nation how to combat adversity.”
A car accident in Sussex, England, in 1961 had impaired vision in Pataudi’s right eye six months before he made his Test debut against England in New Delhi. Pataudi captained India in 40 out of the 46 Test matches he played. The right-handed batsmen, nicknamed ‘Tiger’, scored 2,793 runs at an average of 34.91, including six centuries, according to cricinfo.com.
“Tiger Pataudi was the most charismatic cricketer of his generation,” fellow former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar said in a statement reported by Press Trust of India. “To bat with almost zero vision in one eye and still to score nearly 3,000 runs and half a dozen centuries in Test cricket tells you what a genius he was.”
Pataudi is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, an actress, and their three children, two of whom also act in Bollywood movies.