Tiger laid to rest

Sep 24, 2011, 07:41 IST | Anurag jaDLi

Thousands thronged the burial site at his ancestral palace on Friday to pay their last respects to one of India's greatest cricketing icons Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

Images: Tiger Pataudi laid to rest

Thousands thronged the burial site at his ancestral palace on Friday to pay their last respects to one of India's greatest cricketing icons Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

At a time when Indian cricket isn't exactly setting the world on fire, many echoed the sentiment that his loss will be felt more acutely.

Carrying forward a legacy: Son Saif Ali Khan with the body of Mansur
Ali Khan Pataudi in the Capital on Friday. PIC/Imtiyaz Khan

Former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who died of a lung ailment in Delhi on Thursday, was laid to rest at his ancestral palace on Friday with thousands thronging the burial site to pay their last respects leading to chaotic scenes.

Pataudi, who was 70 when he breathed his last at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, was buried next to the grave of his father, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi - the last ruling Nawab of Bhopal.

As distraught family members, bid final goodbye, there was chaos at the Pataudi Palace's sprawling campus with close to 15,000 people converging at the burial site to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.

The huge police presence was hardly a deterrent as media and the gathered crowd jostled to be the closest to the grave even as the Pataudi family grieved in silence.

Saif Ali Khan performed the last rites after offering Friday prayers. Girlfriend Kareena Kapoor looked distraught along with Pataudi's daughters Soha and Saba, both of whom were inconsolable. Kareena's elder sister and Bollywood actress Karisma also attended the funeral and was seen consoling Saif.

Tight security
A team of commandos had been deployed to regulate the rush of fans. Besides, senior officials of state police were also stationed at the village.

Fans and villagers from nearby areas thronged Pataudi's village as his body was brought here from his south Delhi residence on Friday morning.

Pataudi's wife, yesteryears' Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore, looked calm and composed when she came on the palace balcony once along with other female family members.

From the cricketing fraternity, former captain Kapil Dev and Ajay Jadeja came with the family from Delhi on Friday morning when Pataudi's body was brought. Also present was former captain and coach Anshuman Gaekwad along with santoor maestro Amjad Ali Khan.

In the morning, at the family's Vasant Vihar residence, a large number of people, including senior politicians, celebrities, film stars, cricketers and cricket administrators had paid their last respects.

Later in the day, the family journeyed to the small township in Haryana, 26 km from Gurgaon city, with the body. The Nawab's two sisters and many other relatives, some of who came from Pakistan, accompanied the family.

The mortal remains were placed in the centre of the main hall of the Ibrahim Palace for public viewing.
Before the burial ceremony, a namaaz was offered at the local mosque in the presence of family members and close friends.

Pak connection
Among those who came to pay their last respects in Delhi were Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik with his wife and Punjab Cricket Association chief I S Bindra.

Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, and BJP leader Arun Jaitley also paid their respects to Pataudi, who led India in 40 of the 46 Test matches he played.

Hundreds had gathered outside the Pataudi residence in Delhi also including numerous mediapersons, who even got into an argument with the policemen over the coverage.

Former Haryana Chief Minister O P Chautala also came to pay his respects but the procession had left for Pataudi by that time.

Much admired
Pataudi, regarded as one of India's finest captains, 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.

Pataudi, who lost his right eye because of an accident, played 46 Tests between 1961 and 1975 and was arguably India's greatest captain.

He was given the leadership in his fourth Test, when he was 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 also captained Sussex and Oxford University.

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.

His master's voice
Until a few years ago, 88-year-old Mohammad Hussain was working as a servant in Pataudi Palace since he was 10 years old. "Nawab Mansur was very close to me and he got married in front me. I know him since when he was a child and used to reside in Delhi. In 2003, this Pataudi Palace was turned into Neemrana hotel. Manusur used to come to Pataudi in holidays only," said Hussain.

Hussain also says he's very close to Saif Ali Khan. "I used to play with Mansur's children, Saif, Soha and Saba a lot. Later when I got old, I took retirement from this job. But I still have a huge respect for Nawab saheb and that is why I am here. I can't believe that Mansur is no more with us as he was 17 years younger to me. He was like my own son," he added.

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