Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, one of India’s greatest cricket captains ever and whose flair and acumen inspired a generation of cricketers, passed away in New Delhi on Thursday after battling a lung infection for the last few months.
The 70-year-old cricketer, one of India’s early superstars and who was known as ‘Tiger’ in the cricket fraternity, was suffering from interstitial lung disease, a condition in which the passage of oxygen to the two lungs is less than normal.
He is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, his actor son Saif Ali Khan and his two daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan.
His entire family was at his bedside when the end came at 5.55 pm on Thursday evening.
“He passed away around 5.55 pm. His condition had deteriorated since yesterday. He was suffering from interstitial lung disease (interstitial pneumonitis) which worsens rapidly inspite of the best treatment available,” Dr S P Byotra, Department of medicine in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where Pataudi was admitted, said.
“He was unable to maintain his oxygen level in spite of maximal treatment. He continued to remain in the ICU for nearly a month. He had this disease which had been static since the last three months and worsened very acutely over the last four weeks, the doctor said.
Dr Sumit Ray, vice chaiman, critical care, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said he died of respiratry failure leading to cardiac arrest. He was admitted on 29th August and was conscious till Wednesday evening.
“He was in the Intensive Care Unit for last three days and his condition did not improve. His family in all probability will take his body tomorrow morning”, he said.
Pataudi, who lost his right eye because of an accident, played 46 Tests between 1961 and 1975 and was regarded as one of India’s greatest captains.
Pataudi was given the leadership of the Test team in his fourth Test, when he was only 21, in Barbados in 1962, because the regular captain Nari Contractor was in hospital after getting hit on the head by Charlie Griffith.
Pataudi, who was also known for his amazing sense of humour, 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.
He scored 2793 runs in 46 Tests 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 experts rate his 75 against Australia in Melbourne in 1967-68 as his finest since he played that knock with an injured leg. 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.
Under Pataudi’s captaincy, India won nine Tests but it was he who instilled the belief in the team that it could win international matches.
India achieved their first overseas Test victory under him, against New Zealand in Dunedin in 1968. India then went on to record their first overseas series win by beating New Zealand 3-1.
The cricket fraternity reacted with shock and sorrow at the death of Pataudi and said his demise has left a huge void.
Current cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid and a gallaxy of former stars paid tribute to Pataudi and recounted his immense contribution to Indian cricket.
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.
He was also a 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.