Their aren’t Tigers like him around anymore

Posted: September 23, 2011 in blogging, cricket
Tags: , , , , ,

Childhood memories are the ones that remain for ever. I was in the Eighth Standard, when India won their first-ever series against the West Indies and England in 1971, under Ajit Wadekar.

Holidaying in Ootacamund (now Udhagamandalam), at the Blue Mountain’s School, where my mother used to teach, I was told by her, one afternoon, that Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore were paying a visit to the school, because they were friends of the owners.

The two stars were shooting for Daag in Ooty and had consented to visit the school to interact with the children. The children, which included me, were agog at the news. I mean, who could imagine that they would be meeting the stars of Aradhana in the flesh? And Rajesh Khanna was then a rage.

By the time it was evening, the students were impatiently waiting for their favourite stars, and as the cars drew up to the school porch, the excitement knew no bounds! And then everyone got the shock of their lives. The more ‘senior’ of the boys, including me, let out a whoop of delight, because guess who got out of the car – little Gundappa Vishwanath and a rather dapper Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, accompanied by C.D. Gopinath, then the Chairman of the selection commitee.

Pataudi was extremely apologetic to the little ones for Sharmila and Rajesh’s absence (“they were very tired after a long day’s shoot”), but then went ahead and spoke to the students for over an hour on Indian cricket. Among the students, who listened to the two cricket legends were the son and nephew of former Indian Test opener Madhav Apte and the nephew of C.D. Gopinath – all three real chips of the old block.

I remember asking Vishy the journalist’s standard stupid question – ‘Did you ever think you’ll score a century after getting a duck in your first Test?’ But thankfully I left out the classic question: How did you feel after scoring the century? I guess, I was just destined to join the profession I am in!!

Pataudi was his usual suave self and I remember he referred to the Indian cricketer’s attitude of staying put in the team till he got the boot! Some things haven’t really changed much, have they?
He himself retired after the West Indies series of 1974-75, which India lost 3-2, after being 0-2 down.

I also remember watching Pataudi, leading the Rest of India against Ajit Wadekar’s Indian team that had returned from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1972 or 1973, at the Nehru Stadium in Pune. He spanked (and there is no other word to describe that inning) Wadekar’s India XI bowlers. Young Anshuman Gaekwad watched from the other end stuck on 44, as a rampaging Tiger blasted his way to 144, if I remember right, with 7 sixes, most of them off Paddy Shivalkar – and all into the crowd.

I also watched him race from long off to long on, pick up the ball on the run and throw it in, flat and hard, to shatter the stumps from the boundary ropes. I guess, that’s what made him (as a newspaper referred to him today as) India’s favourite Tiger. They don’t make ’em like him anymore. Goodbye Tiger!

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