Calcutta: For over a week, milli- ons have been monitoring global icon Diego Maradona’s health. Thankfully, he is much better. A few weeks ago, though, an Indian legend — Mansur Ali Khan Pata- udi — was “in pretty poor shape.” Again, thankfully, he is much be- tter.
In fact, Pataudi (under whose captaincy India won its first Test and series overseas, versus New Zealand, 1967-68) is on the way home after a bypass on his right leg. “Now, I’m fine... The problem is a thing of the past,” he told The Telegraph when contacted in Chicago on Monday night.
Pataudi, still regarded by many as India’s finest captain and certainly the first truly inspirational one, added: “I’m starting on the trip home tomorrow and will be back in New Delhi after a short break (in London)...” Wife Sharmila is returning with him.
Intensely private, Pataudi didn’t go into details, but close family friends — both here and in the capital — have confirmed he was “very ill” in the lead-up to his April 8 bypass.
For example, the city-based Naresh Kumar recalled: “About six weeks ago, we were having dinner at his place when the pain became unbearable and Pataudi had to leave the table midway... The leg went blue and, clearly, everyone was worried...”
That worry found an echo across the border too, when Pataudi opted out of the Rawalpindi Test (reported in these columns on April 13). Very concerned were Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan and former chief executive Arif Ali Khan Abbasi, both of whom are related to the one-time Nawab.
Pataudi, 63, himself regrets having missed out on history under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy. “Moreover, I couldn’t meet my relatives there,” he remarked during our brief conversation.
Apparently, Pataudi under- went surgery in the same leg (if not the same region) seven-eight ye-ars ago. That operation was performed in London, which has al- ways been a second home to the former Oxford and Sussex stal- wart.
For now, it’s Pataudi’s homecoming that we await.