01 August, 2021

Once There Was A Tiger...

Batsman, fielder, captain or charmer—Pataudi’s incandescence lit up my boyhood

Once There Was A Tiger...

I began to feel old and weary as I heard the news about the death of Mansur Ali Khan, who before the abolition of the privy purse in 1971 figured on the scoreboard as simply the Nawab of Pataudi, spectacularly robbed of all other markers of his individuality other than his privileged class. Indeed, the humbling realisation of having already lived through a few decades dawns on us, quite suddenly and ferociously, only at the news about the death of our childhood heroes. As long as they are alive, we believe we are still young.

I burrowed deep into my memory to relive the magical moment when I discovered the man they also called the Tiger, my first hero. It was 1969 and I was still a boy in shorts. Around the quaint Murphy radio were huddled the family elders, listening to the commentary—my first ever—on the cricket match between India and Australia in Bombay. Pataudi had stroked the Aussies around. He entered the nervous 90s; he reached 95, prompting an uncle of mine to say, “He’s capable of hitting a six to reach...

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