Tributes pour in for cricket legend Pataudi

New Delhi: Indian cricket fraternity on Thursday reacted with shock and sorrow on the demise of former captain Mansur Ali Khan Patuadi, who died here due to lung infection, describing him as a "great human being" and "shrewd leader" who inspired a generation of players in the country.

Former and current stalwarts of the game remembered how Pataudi had influenced their careers in different ways and said his demise has left a void in Indian cricket.

Indian cricket icons Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar described the passing away of Tiger Pataudi as a "terrible loss to cricketing world" which would be hard to fill.

Tendulkar paid tribute to Pataudi, saying that world cricket will badly miss a hero like him.

"It's a terrible loss to the cricketing world. I had the privilege of meeting him on a few occasions. World cricket will miss a hero like him. I really respected him," Tendulkar said in his condolence message.

Gavaskar expressed shock at the demise of Pataudi, whom he called the most charismatic cricketer of his generation.

"This is very sad news indeed. Only a few weeks ago we saw him in England at the presentation of the Pataudi Trophy and he looked his usual self. Therefore to get this news is a shock," Gavaskar said in a statement.

"Tiger Pataudi was the most charismatic cricketer of his generation. To bat with almost zero vision in one eye and still to score nearly 3000 runs and half a dozen centuries in Test cricket tells you what a genius he was. He will be terribly missed and it's a huge loss to the game of cricket," he said.

Another former captain Sourav Ganguly remembered Pataudi for his class and dignity.

"I am extremely saddened hearing the news about Pataudi passing away. My heartfelt condolence to his family and may his soul rest in peace," he said. "I had known him personally and even met him a few times. There was lot of class and dignity about the man. Due to an accident he lost one eye and was yet successful at the international level, just goes on to show how good a player he was. The most positive thing about him was that he was very honest and always had the good of Indian cricket at heart," Ganguly added.

Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan also expressed deep sorrow at the passing away of Pataudi.

"I am deeply sorry to hear about Mansoor Ali Khan. Tiger Pataudi was in Oxford and but for the loss of one eye, he would have been one of the all time greats of cricket," said Imran, a former all-rounder and captain of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup winning team.

Former opening batsman Gundappa Viswanath described Pataudi as his guide in early years of his career and somebody who had always helped the youngsters.

"It is a terrible news for me, he brought me up and guided me. 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," he said.

"He always guided the youngsters, I was very close to him, so I can't really forget the way he brought me up. He was my first captain under whom I played. Whatever career I had, it stands on him," he added.

Former captain and current selection panel chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Pataudi was the one cricketer who ushered in style and aggression to Indian cricket.

"It is a great loss for Indian cricket. He is one fellow, so stylish and aggressive. He achieved so much at the age of 21, he played an aggressive brand of cricket. He was very friendly and a fun loving person, he had very subtle and good sense of humour," said Srikkanth.

"His greatest quality was the way he hit those sixes. He is called Tiger because of his extraordinary fielding at covers. He lost one eye but still went on to score so many runs. He expresses his views but never tried to impose them. One thing I like to inculcate from him is his determination and aggressiveness," he said.

Current India batsman Rahul Dravid said Pataudi's illustrious career made a great impact on the game and on the Indian team.

"It is a sad day for Indian cricket, he was an inspiration for us. I never had the chance of seeing him play but I always heard how big an impact he made on the game. I had the chance of interacting with him on various issues. He was extremely knowledgeable, he deeply cared about Indian team. It is such a loss not only for his family and friends but also for Indian cricket," he said.

Dravid's India team-mate VVS Laxman felt Pataudi's legacy will continue even after his death.

"It's a sad moment for cricket fraternity. It's shocking news to me as only few days back I met him in England. I have never interacted with him on cricketing techniques but he had a great cricketing acumen and a very knowledgeable person, given the amount of experience," Laxman said.

"His record speaks for itself. May his soul rest in peace. I am confident his legacy will continue. He had a lot of passion for Indian cricket. His knowledge and acumen about cricket will definitely be missed," he added.

Pataudi's one-time team-mate Bishen Singh Bedi described him as the "foremost outstanding champion of Indian cricket".

"Very sad day for the Indian cricket. He was the foremost outstanding champion of Indian cricket. With his sad demise, that chapter is closed now. I am too shocked to react to this news," said Bedi.

Former captain Dilip Vengsarkar remembered Pataudi as an "innovative" captain who had won many matches for the country.

"It's a sad news. He was a great player, fantastic captain and an outstanding fielder. He was a gutsy player and an innovative captain. He won many may matches for India. We are going to miss him," he said.

Former left-arm spinner and handy lower order batsman Bapu Nadkarni said that Pataudi was "a much misunderstood man" during his playing days because of his aloofness.

"He was a much misunderstood man. His handicap was he did not know many players in the team as he had come from England (where he was an Oxford Blue). He was a loner, but he was a good man," said Nadkarni, who was among the seniors whom Pataudi had captained.

Nadkarni said what amazes him even now is how Pataudi, whose father Iftekhar Ali also captained India on the 1946 tour of England after having represented that country earlier in Tests against Australia, could play cricket at the highest level so well even with the sort of physical handicaps he had.

"In those days international cricket was of a very high level and what amazes me is how he could carry on with three handicaps - he had one eye (the other having been lost in a car accident in England), one effective shoulder and one effective thigh - and play so well," said Nadkarni.

Chandu Borde, who was Pataudi's deputy on the 1968 visit to Australia, described the death of his former captain as "shocking".

"It came as a shock to me," said Borde who described the departed player as someone with a great sense of humour.

"We all thought at first he was a very reserved man after having been brought up in the UK but later on came to realise he was a fantastic guy with a great sense of humour," said Borde.

"On that tour to Australia there was a late night party and he wanted to play a practical joke. He told me to come up to him during the party and ask when was he going back to India for his wife's birthday and I did so. Next day there was a heading in the newspaper. He was that kind of a man," said Borde with a laugh.

"I saw him fielding for Oxford in England before his eye injury. He was so brilliant on the field. No wonder he got the nickname --Tiger," Borde recalled.

"He was well respected not only in India but also in other countries. He was also the first batsman to loft the ball when we were of the old school. Jai followed his example later," he remembered.

Former captain Contractor also offered his condolences to Pataudi's family.

"My association with Pataudi was very brief. He did not play in the first two Tests and the tour match in West Indies and then I got injured," Contractor said.

Prior to the tour when the vice captain had to be named the choice was between Polly, Chandu and the Nawab and he was preferred as Polly was to retire after the tour, according to Contractor.

"He was a great fielder, better than anyone else in the current Indian team. Whatever he did, he did well till he was thrown out (by the casting vote of selection panel chairman Vijay Merchant). He was a gutsy cricketer. He did well as captain, batsman and fielder," he summed up.

Former captain Ajit Wadekar, who made his debut under Pataudi against the West Indies in 1966-67 in Mumbai.

"It's very sad. (It's) too early to go. He was the greatest captain and a great batsman. He supported me when Madhav Mantri proposed my name to be in the Indian team against the West Indies (led by Garfield Sobers). He trusted me. We became good friends," said Wadekar.

"He was a great batsman with one eye only to guide him. The way he batted was great. I still remember his innings at Melbourne and how he belted McEnzie on that wet wicket with a hamstring injury. I was his runner," he said.

Tributes also poured in for the Tiger from other quarters.

Describing Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi as a "quintessential gentleman" who contributed immensely to cricket, President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and leaders of various political parties including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi condoled the death of the former Indian captain.

His stylish batting style and agile fielding abilities define a new generation of Indian cricketers of that period, the President said.

"I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, eminent cricketer and sportsperson. Pataudi's contributions to the game of cricket throughout his life as a player, captain, coach and analyst need no elaboration," Ansari said in his condolence message.

Sonia Gandhi said the void created by Pataudi's death in sports and public arena will be difficult to fill.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter, "I am sorry to hear about the unfortunate demise of Tiger Pataudi. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family."

Her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley described Tiger Pataudi as one of the greatest captains India has ever produced.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken condoled the death of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, saying, "The entire nation has lost a legend. May his soul rest in peace. My thoughts are with the family."

The Cricket Board (BCCI) lamented the sudden demise of former captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, saying he brought about a revolution in Indian team's fielding and guided the side to unprecedented heights.

"I am shocked to hear the news of Tiger Pataudi's demise. He was an exemplary individual, who guided Indian cricket to unprecedented heights, as batsman, fielder and captain," new BCCI president N Srinivasan said in a statement.

"He revolutionised fielding standards in the Indian team, and across the country. In an age wherein a draw was considered as good as a win, Tiger Pataudi encouraged his players to go flat out for victory," he added.

ICC President and former BCCI chief Sharad Pawar also recalled Pataudi's contribution to the game.

"He was an eminent cricketer, a gentleman and a role model for a whole generation of cricketers. In his sudden passing away, cricket has suffered terrible and irreparable loss and it is a personal loss to me," Pawar said.

Pataudi passed away at a city hospital here today after battling a lung infection for the last few months.

The 70-year-old cricketer, known as 'Tiger' in the cricket fraternity, was suffering from interstitial lung disease, a condition in which the passage of oxygen to the two lungs is less than normal.

He is survived by his wife Sharmila Tagore, his actor son Saif Ali Khan and two daughters Soha and Saba Ali Khan.