London: Jun 15, 2012
A memorial lunch in honour of the late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, one of India's most charismatic cricket captains, was held at London on Friday attended by his wife Sharmila Tagore, son Saif Ali Khan and daughters Saba and Soha among others.
The lunch was hosted by Indian Journalists' Association (IJA) in the Edwardian suite of the St James Court hotel in central London.
Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor accompanied beau Saif Ali to a special sit-down luncheon which also saw a host of dignitaries including former OPCB chairman and Pataudi's first cousin Shahryar Khan and his family.
The other dignitaries present were Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamlesh Sharma, Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK, Rajesh N Prasad, former Pakistan cricket captain Asif Iqbal and former India left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi.
The chief executives of the England & Wales Cricket Board and Sussex County Cricket Club, where Pataudi was captain, including members of the House of Lords, also took part in the function in what was a select gathering of 135 people.
The gathering paid rich tribute to the cricketer, who was described as a "born leader" and a "man of few words".
"Tiger was my cousin and I experienced all moments in his life including his birth. Tiger was very fond of hunting particularly crocodile hunting. Despite losing an eye in an accident, he succeeded magnificiently not only as a cricketer but also as a fine human being," said Khan, who was also a former foreign secretary of Pakistan.
"I have not seen a better mover and catcher in slips than Tiger. He was one of the greatest fielders of all time. He would have been one of India's best batsmen had he not lost one of his eyes," added Khan.
Speaking on the occasion, Doshi said Tiger played cricket for India at a very young age and brought a sense of belief in the Indian dressing room.
"He was an extremely admired cricketer and also the captain of the Indian team which won the first Test overseas (against New Zealand). I hold him in high regard both as a cricketer and fine gentleman. He was a born leader, a man of few words. We miss him sorely but his legacy will live on," said Doshi.
Asif Iqbal said that Tiger was responsible for changing the nature of cricket in the sub-continent.
"He brought about a change in the fielding. He had a mischievous sense of humour but he was a cricketer of insurmountable self-belief. A person with great sense of humour," he said.
Rajesh Prasad and Kamlesh Sharma also spoke highly of Tiger and said he was an inspiring leader and legend in his lifetime.
Pataudi's son Saif Ali Khan said his father was a nice house guest and forged great friendships.
"I am not qualified enough to talk about my father but he was a nice house guest. He was my hero too and as a competitive cricketer, he did many things in adverse situations," he said.
Sharmila said, "So many memories are being re-lived today. It was here at the Crown Plaza hotel where we stayed during our last visit."
A short film on Pataudi's batting in a Test match in Leeds in 1967 - in which he scored a heroic 148 - was screened for the gathering. (PTI)