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Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi—Nawab and only Test cricketer to play for both England and India

Apart from cricket, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was also a fine hockey and billiards player.

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From Test matches to T20, England and India are fierce rivals. But about 50 years ago, the two teams had a player in common—Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi. Popularly known as ‘Pat’, Khan is the only Test cricketer to have played for both India and England.

Khan played Test cricket for the English team in the 1930s, before becoming captain of the Indian team that toured England in 1946. Iftikhar, popularly known as Nawab of Pataudi Sr, was a dashing strokeplayer. His knock of 238 not out for Oxford against Cambridge in 1931 remained unbroken till 2005.

Following in the footsteps of the great Indians who played before him, Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji II or Ranji and Duleepsinhji (Duleep), Nawab Pataudi senior scored a century in his debut match against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1932-33, the Ashes series famous for England’s ‘bodyline’ bowling, devised to contain the great Donald Bradman who was at his peak.

But despite his extraordinary performance, he was dropped after playing two matches for the rest of the series, because he disagreed with captain Douglas Jardine’s tactics. After Khan refused to take his place in a bodyline leg-side field, Jardine retorted, “I see His Highness is a conscientious objector.”

He returned home before the end of the tour.

Yet his relentless form for the Worcestershire team got him recalled in the English team for one Test against the visiting Australians in 1934. He only played one Test, his last of the three for England, and was out of the series due to health issues.

Also read: Remembering Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi: Saba Pataudi pens heartwarming post on legendary cricketer’s birth anniversary

Nawab of Pataudi

Iftikhar Ali Khan was born on 16 March 1910 to Nawab Muhammad Ibrahim Ali Khan and Shahar Bano Begum who ruled the small princely state of Pataudi, in present-day Haryana.

After his father’s death in 1917, Iftikhar became the 8th Nawab of Pataudi but was formally declared as one in December 1931.

After completing his education at Aitchison College in Lahore (formerly Chief’s College), Iftikhar moved to Great Britain and enrolled in Balliol College, University of Oxford, in 1927.

There, he excelled in hockey and cricketing blues and also received coaching from the renowned English all-rounder, Frank Woolley.

Even during his university days, Iftikhar’s cricketing skills were unmatched.

He was awarded the ‘Wisden Cricketer of the Year’ in 1932 for his brilliant performance. Upon his return from Australia after the 1932-33 Ashes series, he was given the chance to captain the Indian cricket team in 1936, but Iftikhar withdrew at the last minute citing bad form.

In 1946, he finally became the Indian team’s captain and played against England but by then, at 36, he was well past his prime sporting years.

He played six Test matches — three each for England and India — scoring 199 runs.

Iftikhar was known for his strong defensive technique, footwork at the crease and his ability to play a wide range of strokes. He was also known for his sportsmanship and leadership skills.

The growing legacy

Apart from cricket, Iftikhar Ali Khan was also a fine hockey and billiards player as well as an accomplished public speaker.

After India’s Independence, he was employed in the Indian Foreign Office till his death in 1952. He died of a heart attack while playing polo, at the age of 42. His son, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, was 11 years old at the time.

Nawab Pataudi senior’s son carried on his legacy and came to be regarded as one of Indian cricket team’s finest captains and earning the moniker ‘Tiger Pataudi’. Iftikhar’s grandchildren, Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan, are big Bollywood stars.

In 2007, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of India’s Test debut, the Marylebone Cricket Club commissioned a trophy in Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi’s name to be competed for between India and England.

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