Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (AP Photo)
NEW DELHI (AP) — Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, a former India cricket captain who led the country to its first series victory abroad, died Thursday at a local hospital where he was being treated for a lung disease. He was 70.
The Ganga Ram Hospital said Pataudi died Thursday evening.
Pataudi was India captain in 40 of his 46 tests from 1961-75, scoring 2,793 runs with six centuries. He adjusted his batting style well despite the loss of sight in his right eye due to a car accident early in his career.
Pataudi became captain at 21 and won nine tests while leading India over New Zealand 3-1 in 1968 for its first series victory away from home.
Pataudi was of royal lineage and his father, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, was the only cricketer to have played tests for both England and India.
A prince with the title of "Nawab" given to his family during British rule, Pataudi was a charismatic leader and dashing batsman who was nicknamed "Tiger" by teammates for his aggressive approach and agility in fielding.
"I am shocked to hear the news of Tiger Pataudi's demise," Indian cricket board president Narainswamy Srinivasan said in a statement. "He was an exemplary individual who guided Indian cricket to unprecedented heights, as batsman, fielder and captain."
Pataudi is credited with changing the mindset of Indian cricketers. The more positive approach in subsequent years saw India win a pair of epic series in England and the West Indies in 1971 under his successor, Ajit Wadekar.
He also captained English county Sussex and Oxford University and was named Wisden cricketer of the year in 1968.
Gundappa Viswanath, a stylish batsman who scored a century on his debut against Australia in Pataudi's captaincy in 1969 and went on to become one of India's best batsmen of the era along with Sunil Gavaskar, credited Pataudi for his success.
"It is a terrible news for me. He brought me up and guided me," Viswanath was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India. "I can't even express myself, it is one of my saddest days. He was a great human being, a great cricketer, a great fielder, shrewd captain. It is really sad."
Gavaskar said in a statement that he was surprised to hear of Pataudi's death after meeting him just last month.
"Only a few weeks ago we saw him in England at the presentation of the Pataudi Trophy (given to the winner of the India-England test series) and he looked his usual self," Gavaskar said. "Therefore, to get this news is a shock."
Pataudi was also credited with persisting with a multi-prong spin attack that helped India trouble the best of oppositions with slow bowling.
"His faith in the spinners was absolute and we all prospered under his captaincy," left-arm spin great Bishan Bedi said. "He guided us so comfortably and serenely, the spin quartet had the highest regard for him.
"We won't find the likes of him in a long, long time. His voice cannot be filled. A great chapter of Indian cricket has come to a close," added Bedi, who formed a lethal combination with offspinners Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkatraghavan, and leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrashekhar.
Prasanna, batting great Sachin Tendulkar, former captain Sourav Ganguly and test batting mainstay Rahul Dravid were among other prominent cricketers to offer their condolences.
Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, described Pataudi "as a very talented batsman and fine cricketer who will be remembered as one of India's greatest ever captains and he also made a significant contribution to the game as an administrator. He will be much missed in cricketing circles both in this country and in India..."
After retiring from the game, Pataudi was a match referee for the International Cricket Council, a consultant with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and a governing council member of the Indian Premier League.
Pataudi also edited a sports magazine during the 1990s.
Pataudi is survived by his actress wife Sharmila Tagore, son Saif and daughters Soha and Saba. Saif and Soha are also actors.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press