Pataudi’s bitter-sweet relationship with Delhi cricket

- June 16, 2024

The former India cricket captain left Delhi for Hyderabad but was still honoured with ‘Hall of Fame’ at the Arun Jaitley Stadium

THE SHIFT: Pataudi left Delhi for Hyderabad in early 1960s

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, a Nawab, had his own charm. But he didn’t fare well with Delhi cricket, according to some old followers.  

When he was skipper of Delhi’s Ranji Trophy team in early 1960s, he moved to Hyderabad without any reason. He then played for the Hyderabad team led by his friend ML Jaisimha. Even when he was captain of the India side, he was happily playing under Jaisimha at state level.

In 2017, Pataudi was posthumously honoured with a ‘Hall of Fame’ at what is now known as the Arun Jaitley Stadium in the Capital. But that angered the likes of Sandip Wahal, who has been following Delhi cricket for over 50 years. 

“Like me, several avid cricket buffs of Delhi were unhappy with the decision of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).  Why such respect being given to a person who left Delhi without any reason? Did Pataudi ever teach batting or fielding techniques to talented players from schools or colleges here after retiring from Test cricket in 1975?” 

Pataudi lived in Capital since the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru had allotted a spacious bungalow to his mother Sajida Sultan on Tyagraj Marg (formerly Duplex Road) from the quota for social workers. It was here that Pataudi brought Sharmila Tagore as his wife. 

After Sajida Sultan’s death in 2003, the Pataudi family had to vacate the bungalow. The family then moved to Vasant Vihar. After that, Pataudi was frequently seen watching polo matches at the Jaipur Polo Ground, but he was never seen at any event related to Delhi cricket.  

“Yes, Pataudi was a tough cricketer. Just months before becoming captain of India, he lost the sight of his right eye in a car accident. But he did not give up. He batted with one eye and scored six centuries and 16 half-centuries in Test matches. I greatly respect him as a dogged player. However, I don’t think Ferozeshah Kotla should have ‘Hall of Fame’ dedicated to him given the fact that he did nothing for Delhi cricket,” Wahal concludes.

It is said that when Pataudi batted, he saw two balls coming towards him. There was a distance of a few inches between these two. But Pataudi always played the ball he should have played. 

Some say that Pataudi left Delhi because he had differences with the then head of Delhi cricket, Ram Prakash Mehra. They never got along. Interestingly, Mehra lived all his life in the area where Pataudi House is located in Daryaganj. It was in this very Pataudi House that Pataudi’s father and former India team captain, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was born in 1910.

PS: There was also a Pataudi house near Copernicus Marg in Lutyens’ Delhi.