Mansoor Ali Khan or Mansur Ali Khan sometimes M. A. K. Pataudi (5 January 1941, Bhopal – 22 September 2011, New Delhi), nicknamed Tiger Pataudi, was an Indian cricketer and former captain of the Indian cricket team. He was the titular Nawab of Pataudi from 1952 until 1971, when by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India the privy purses of the princes were abolished and official recognition of their titles came to an end. He has been described as “India’s greatest cricket captain”.
Mohamed Mansoor Ali Khan was the son of Iftikhar Ali Khan. He was born in Bhopal and educated at A.M.U Minto Circle School in Aligarh and then went to Welham Boys’ School in Dehradun (Uttarakhand), Lockers Park Prep School in Hertfordshire (where he was coached by Frank Woolley), and Winchester College. He learned Arabic and French at Balliol College, Oxford.
His father died while playing polo in Delhi on Mansoor’s eleventh birthday in 1952, whereupon Mansoor succeeded as the ninth Nawab. Although the princely state of Pataudi had been merged with India after the end of the British Raj in 1947, he held the title until the entitlements were abolished by the Government of India through the 26th amendment to the constitution in 1971.
Pataudi Jr., as Mansoor came to be known during his cricket career, was a right-handed batsman and a right-arm medium pace bowler. He was a schoolboy batting prodigy at Winchester, relying on his keen eyes to punish the bowling. He captained the school team in 1959, scoring 1,068 runs that season and beating the school record set in 1919 by Douglas Jardine. He also won the public schools rackets championship, with partner Christopher Snell.
He made his first-class debut for Sussex in August 1957, aged 16, and also played for Oxford while he was at university and was the first Indian captain there. On 1 July 1961, he was a passenger in a car which was involved in an accident in Hove. A shard of glass from the broken windscreen penetrated and permanently damaged his right eye. The surgeon named Dr. David St Clair Roberts was called to operate on his eye, and was praised by Pataudi for saving one of his eyes. The damage caused Pataudi to see a doubled image, and it was feared this would end his cricketing career, but Pataudi was soon in the nets learning to play with one eye.
Despite his eye injury less than 6 months before, he made his Test debut playing against England in Delhi in December 1961. He found it easiest to play with his cap pulled down over his damaged right eye. He scored 103 in the Third Test in Madras, helping India to its first series win against England. He was appointed vice-captain for the tour to the West Indies in 1962. In March 1962, Mansoor became captain of the Indian cricket team after the sitting captain Nari Contractor was ruled out of the Fourth Test in Barbados due to an injury sustained by Contractor batting against Charlie Griffith in a tour match against Barbados. At 21 years and 77 days, he held the world record for the youngest Test captain until he was surpassed by Tatenda Taibu in May 2004. As of 2013, he remains the youngest Indian Test captain.
He played in 46 Test matches for India between 1961 and 1975, scoring 2,793 runs at a Test batting average of 34.91, including 6 Test centuries. Mansoor was captain of the Indian cricket team in 40 of his 46 matches, only 9 of which resulted in victory for his team, with 19 defeats and 19 draws. His victories included India’s first ever Test match win overseas against New Zealand in 1968. India went on to win that series, making it India’s first ever Test series win overseas. He lost the captaincy of the Indian cricket team for the tour to the West Indies in 1970-1, and did not play Tests from 1970 to 1972. He returned to the India side captained by Ajit Wadekar in 1973, for the Third Test against England, and captained India against West Indies in 1974-5, but was finally dropped as a player in 1975.
Between 1957 and 1970 Mansoor, following his countrymen Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji, played 137 first class matches for Sussex County Cricket Club scoring 3,054 runs at an average of 22.29. He captained Sussex in 1966. In India, he played first-class cricket for Delhi in the North Zone until 1966, and then for Hyderabad in the South Zone.
He was an Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year in 1962, and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1968. He published an autobiography, Tiger’s Tale, in 1969. He was the manager of the India team in 1974-5, and referee for two Ashes Tests in 1993. He was later a member of the council of the Indian Premier League. In 2007, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of India’s Test debut, the Marylebone Cricket Club has commissioned a trophy for Test match series between India and England which was named the Pataudi Trophy in honour of his father, the 8th Nawab.
On 27 December 1967, Mansoor married Indian film actress Sharmila Tagore. They had three children :
Pataudi was admitted to New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on 22 September 2011 with an acute lung infection caused by chronic interstitial lung disease which prevented his lungs from exchanging oxygen properly. He died of respiratory failure the same day. His body was buried at Pataudi near Delhi on 23 September 2011. His funeral was attended by large number of film actors, directors and producers, as well as cricketing fraternity.
In honour of his outstanding contributions towards cricket, the Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi Memorial Lecture was instituted by the BCCI on 6 February 2013 with the inaugural lecture by Sunil Gavaskar on 20 February 2013.