Engineer on Pataudi, the original Indian athlete

Wicketkeeper Engineer can't forget the pain he felt in his fingers courtesy Pataudi's throws from cover point

Farokh Engineer was in La Manga, Spain for a festive weekend of Twenty20 cricket (featuring ten teams from UK, Spain, Ireland and Belgium) when he heard the news of close friend Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi's death yesterday evening.

Living the good life: Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (extreme left), shares a
laugh with Bill Lawry and Farokh Engineer during India's tour of Australia
in 1967-68. File Pic

Level playing field
Engineer recalled a fun game that was organised by Pataudi in the early 1970s. "I can never forget the festival match we played with patches on one eye. It was Pataudi's concept -- he wanted to show us what it felt like to play cricket with one eye. We were dropping catches, and couldn't score any runs with the bat. It proved that Pataudi, with just one eye, could do such great things on the field. Imagine what he could have done with two eyes?"

"I am devastated. He was an extremely dear friend. I have lost a friend... I have lost my captain. Standing behind the stumps as a wicketkeeper, I used to look at him and make eye contact (to execute plans). It was almost like I did most of the captaincy on his behalf," Engineer, who played 27 of his 46 Tests under the captaincy of Pataudi, told MiD DAY.

"Indian cricket's first genuine athlete," is how Engineer described his late friend. "I can never forget his fast throws from the cover-point position.  They used to strike my gloves so hard. He was equally brilliant at slips. I used to wonder how he used to judge which way the ball was moving with abnormal vision. Those days cricket hardly had any athletes. He was perhaps Indian cricket's first genuine athlete. That's why we started calling him Tiger, he took fielding to another level," said Engineer.

Greatest captain
Engineer said he would talk in length about Pataudi, "Tomorrow (Friday) is the match (here at La Manga) and we will be observing two minutes of silence for him. It is my duty to go up on stage and enlighten people about India's greatest ever captain and the most astute cricketing brain," an emotional Engineer said.

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