Today in 30 Days, 30 Questions:
Question: Which Indian captain has had the most lasting impact on the team in particular and India's cricketing ethos in general? Why?
Yahoo! Cricket's response (by Neeraj Gangal, Senior Editor) — Though many cricketers have influenced Indian cricket through their on-field heroics or exceptional talent the captain who changed the mindset of Indian players and fans forever was Mansoor Ali Khan ‘Tiger’ Pataudi.
Decades before we had heard the terms ‘taking the attack to the opposition’, or even ‘Team India’ in its truest sense, Tiger succeeded in transforming a fragmented bunch of individuals into a cohesive unit, instilling a sense of accountability (read meritocracy), self-belief and national pride; and eventually leading India to its first Test match win overseas (New Zealand, 1968).
In hindsight, it seems the win may have had a ‘Roger Bannister effect’ on Indian cricket. (Before the British athlete did it, running the mile under four minutes was considered impossible. The timing is now a normal standard for runners.) It took independent India 21 years to win its first Test match abroad. It took Ajit Wadekar’s men merely three years thereafter, to score India’s first overseas series win (West Indies, 1971). What has followed thereafter, we all know.
India was mentally ready and confident to compete with the best; dominate the best. This was Tiger’s legacy.
Leave your answers in the comments below and we will republish the best ones.
Thank you for your lovely responses, again. Here are some of the better ones.
Brij puts his money on Tiger:
When a magazine once voted the greatest amongst Indain Captains, I voted for Pat there. Later when I told him of this, he gave his usual smile and just let it end there. I am glad that today someone else too thinks the same way as I do. Undoubtedly Pat's impact on Indian cricket has been the greatest. He motivated the players to stop a ball and not leave it for Newton's laws to do that for them. He for first time motivated that an Indian team can walk down in the field with the object of winning a match and not letting it in a draw (as wins were never thought of).
I can't forget the series against the mighty West Indies under Clive Llyod. It was Pataudi’s last. The first Test was in Bangalore. Pataudi got injured. India lost there and the next one in New Delhi. Pataudi came back in the third Test in Calcutta and won there and again in Madras. India beat the mighty Windies. Kallicharran, Robers, Fredericks, Greenidge, Richards were on top. In the final Test India lost. But we cannot forget the captaincy of Tiger. With one eye. Man — how could he do it? What would have happened if he had two eyes? We can't forget Tiger's efforts.
To answer your question about how Tiger did it, it's quite simple (at least according to the man himself). Once asked by a journalist about how he played with one eye, Pataudi said, "I see two balls. I hit the one on the inside."
Captain Perveen Sethi
too raves about Tiger:
Mind you, when Pataudi took the reins of the team, he had five-six established senior players like Borde, Nadkarni etc and it was quite a task to gain their confidence and respect and then lead from the front — which he did quite well. This one-eyed general's contribution can never ever be forgotten. His name will always be written in golden words in the history of Indian cricket.
Venkata points to Pataudi's shrewd handling of spinners:
His classy batting with one eye must also have inspired many a cricketer, undoubtedly. His shrewdness in handling of classy spinners is also too well known for serious and knowledgeable cricket buffs. Indian cricket owes much to him definitely, in my opinion.
Abhigyan puts Ganguly above Pataudi:
The most impactful captain has to be our beloved Dada, Pataudi being a close second. Tiger taught us to look in the eyes of the opponent and not flinch from challenges. Ganguly took forward our attitude from 'resilience' to 'retaliation'. India was a nation happy with sporadic victories but Dada raised the expectations of the fanatic millions to a point where we are dissatisfied with anything but victory.
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