Pat, a sight from the non-striker's end

Sep 23, 2011, 09:52 IST | Waleed Hussain

Former teammate Salim Durani has fond memories from the non-striker's end of Pataudi dispatching bowlers to the boundary in his own majestic way

Former teammate Salim Durani has fond memories from the non-striker's end of Pataudi dispatching bowlers to the boundary in his own majestic way

I am deeply grieved at the loss of a great cricketer and human being. It is a very sad day for India and the world of cricket. I have had the good fortune of having played with Tiger for the longest duration. We had some great partnerships in the middle and I admired his batting skills.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi plays a stroke in the nets

He was a very innocent, big-hearted and jovial person. He had the aura of a royal personality and he lived up to it gracefully. Some of my best memories on the field and off it are with Nawab sahib, as we all fondly called him.

Salim Durani

I had met him last month during a wedding in Udaipur, and he was quite ill at that time. We chatted through the night and relived some of the warm moments from our playing days. He was a born Prince and he was born to play cricket. It is a grave loss.

Tiger on the field
At our meeting last month, we spoke about the 1962 West Indies tour, and the century that he got against Australia in the first Test at Chennai in 1964. Australia had put up 211 on the board on a spinning Chennai track. Bapu Nadkarni had scalped 5/31 and given us a super start. Then the Aussie bowlers tore into our top order. Tiger walked in to bat at 56/4 with ML Jaisimha, Hanumant Singh and Dilip Sardesai back in the pavilion.
Tiger batted with grit and remained unbeaten at 128, giving us a lead of 65 runs. That was a remarkable innings - one among many that Tiger has played for India.

Versatile cricketer
Tiger was one of the most adaptive and versatile batsmen that I have ever seen in my life. He could change the game plan as per the situation in a flash. From hooking the West Indian pace men to smashing sixes over cover, Tiger had every stroke in the book. In fact, he was the pioneer of many cricket strokes that we see in the modern version of the game. Even after his eye injury, he played like a champion. We were all amazed at his levels of concentration and his ability to counter any bowling attack. His footwork was by far the best that I have seen.

Born leader
Pataudi was very young when he was appointed captain and sent on the West Indies tour. But he had a wealth of experience in England where he played for Oxford. He was young, aggressive and a born leader. He was a true prince and it showed in the majestic way that he batted. And he was very helpful and warm to all the players in the side. He was always available when a player needed advice, and he would explain in detail to ease out the problem. Tiger earned the respect of the players, both from the team and the touring side.

Tiger was an extremely jovial and warm person off the field. After the day's play when the team sat down together in the evening, he would ensure that every person in the gathering was comfortable and well taken care of.

I recall, during the 1962 West Indies tour, someone had mentioned to Tiger that I used to sing Ghazals. And we knew that Tiger was very fond of music, so during the evening gatherings, Chandu Borde would be on tabla, and I would sing Begum Akhtar's ghazals and even popular ones from Mirza Ghalib. During one such evening, Tiger stood up and performed an impromptu Kathakali performance. And as a reward for my vocal skills, Nawab sahib awarded me with sherbet bottles.

Tiger's favourite ghazals were Woh Joh Hum Mein Tum Mein Qarar tha by Begum Akhtar and Sab kahan kuch lala-o-gul main numaya ho gayeen, khak main kia sooratain hongy kay pinhaan hogayeen by Mirza Ghalib.

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