One of the most dramatic stories for any Indian cricketers is the story of Mansur Ali Khan, also known as the Nawab of Pataudi Junior. He was a schoolboy prodigy in England and expected to achieve greater things like his father. Mansur’s father Iftikhar Ali Khan was also a renowned cricketer who made debut hundred during the Bodyline series in 1932-33. Later he became the only player till date to represent both England and India in test matches.
It was Mansur’s 11th birthday in 1952. Iftikhar was playing in a Polo tournament in Delhi. Suddenly the news came of his demise due to a heart attack while playing Polo. Mansur became the 9th Nawab and interestingly he held that title till 1971. It resulted in two different types of entries in the scorecard for Mansur at different phases of his career.
The next shock came when he was barely 20. He already established himself by then as one of the most talented cricketers in University games and even made his first-class debut for Sussex. He was the first Indian captain of the Oxford University team. It was 1st July 1961, Mansur faced a fatal car accident as a passenger and a piece of glass entered his right eye permanently damaging it. People feared that the brilliant cricket career might be over. But Mansur did not lose hope and started practicing to play with one eye. In less than six months from the accident he made his India debut and by the third test match of his career he had a test century which was pivotal for India’s first test series win over England.
Then came the dreaded tour of West Indies in 1962. Destiny had some dramatic plans for Mansur, who was appointed as vice-captain. It was a very strong West Indies side led by Sir Frank Worrell and included players like Sir Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Wes Hall and Lance Gibbs. India lost the first two test matches badly as Mansur was out due to injury. Before the third test match, in the tour game against Barbados, Indian captain Nari Contractor was hit on his skull by a Charlie Griffith bouncer. It was a very serious blow which almost killed Contractor and permanently finished his test career.
With none of the senior players very keen for a stop-gap captaincy role Mansur was given the responsibility of leading India in the third test. He was barely 21. On 23rd March 1962, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi became the youngest test captain ever at the age of 21 years and 77 days. This record stood for close to 40 years till huge political unrest in Zimbabwe led to 20-year-old Tatenda Taibu becoming the youngest test captain ever.
Mansur did not have a great start of his captaincy career as India lost the series 0-5. However, as the years passed he became one of the modern and intelligent captains of India. He led India in 40 of his 46 tests winning nine. This record was intact till Mohammad Azharuddin won 14 test matches as captain.
Video: The Real Tiger | Mansur Ali Khan