Tiger Pataudi turned tail

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Live - - CITY -

Just a year back, crick­et­ing leg­end and icon of the erst­while no­bil­ity, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan Tiger Pataudi joined his peers in the happy hunt­ing grounds. Known for his courage and quick­sil­ver move­ments on the field at Lords, Pataudi’s ex­ploits in the jun­gles were of a some­what dif­fer­ent or­der. Out hunt­ing with his nephew Saad Bin Jung in the jun­gles on the Nepal bor­der, the Nawab was ac­tu­ally caught with his pants down. In his book, ‘Wild Tales from the Wild’, Jung re­calls when his favourite ‘Mamoo’ was an­swer­ing the call of the na­ture in the tiger-in­fested jun­gle. The Nawab or­dered Jung to stand guard nearby with a gun as he hung his trousers from a tree and set­tled down with a sigh to re­lieve his press­ing bow­els. A tiger alarm was sounded just then and Pataudi was off like a flash, aban­don­ing his trousers. Pataudi made a dash for the jeep, 60 yards away, and dived in. What a catch! In Novem­ber 1998, Pataudi and his bet­ter half courted con­tro­versy when they let fly at mi­gra­tory birds at Hok­era sanc­tu­ary in Kash­mir. The large shoot­ing party, guests of the then CM Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah, shot 160 water­fowl over two days, the bulk be­ing drab, slow-fly­ing and un­eat­able Com­mon coots! I per­son­ally re­call Pataudi and Jung from a duck shoot in Haryana in 1985 win­ter with In­dia’s then top skeet shooter, Harinder ‘Baba’ Bedi. Pataudi re­fused to wade into the wa­ter to get close to the ducks and pre­ferred to fire from the com­fort of the car bon­net even as most of us went into deep wa­ter. Pataudi, ever the dap­per fel­low, was well equipped with a price­less, roy­ally en­graved English dou­ble-bar­rel shot­gun, cus­tom-built with a curved butt to suit Pataudi’s one-eyed mien. But as ducks whizzed by and Pataudi missed them with his poor shoot­ing, an ex­as­per­ated Jung mem­o­rably snatched Pataudi’s gun and brought down two Pin­tail ducks in a jiffy! Pataudi’s last known es­capade in the wild was most unchival­rous. In June 2005, Pataudi was ar­rested and charged with poach­ing a fe­male black buck and two Black-naped hares in Jha­j­jar, Haryana. Apart from the crim­i­nal of­fence, it was un­sports­man-like to shoot an­i­mals in breed­ing sea­son and that, too, with search­lights at night from a Maruti Gypsy.

(The writer can be con­tacted at vjswild1@gmail.com)

Tiger Pataudi

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