New Delhi: A man who has earned his stripes as an astute politician, Sharad Pawar on Thursday became only the second Indian -- after his one time adversary Jagmohan Dalmiya -- to occupy the top post at the International Cricket Council.
Pawar’s taking over as ICC president means it took 10 years after Dalmiya had quit as ICC chairman that another Indian rose to the coveted position.
A seasoned politician, 69-year-old Pawar is not new to sports administration, being the president of the Maharashtra Olympic Association and Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), besides heading the state kho-kho, kabaddi and wrestling associations.
Besides, his father-in-law Sadu Shinde was a leg-spinner for India who died at the age of 31, having played just seven Test matches for India.
Pawar gained a toehold in cricket administration in 2001 when he beat former India captain Ajit Wadekar to take over the MCA reins and his rise to the top of the Board of Control for Cricket in India was not smooth either as it pitted him directly against the former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
His first shot at BCCI president’s post led to his only defeat in an election when Dalmiya’s casting vote -- after the scores were tied -- helped Ranbir Singh Mahendra pip Pawar to the post.
Pawar, however, had his revenge as he returned not only to oust Mahendra in the 2005 election but also cut Dalmiya to size, eventually leading to the Kolkata-based businessman’s expulsion from the board.
Pawar headed BCCI from 2005 to 2008 even though detractors pointed to droughts and mass suicide by farmers to claim that he was more interested in running BCCI and could not do justice to the agriculture ministry portfolio.
Subsequently Pawar found that former England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan stood in his way to occupy the top ICC post and they reached the agreement that Morgan would head ICC from 2008 to 2010 before paving way for Pawar.
It suited Pawar as well since it ensured he would head ICC at the time when the sub-continent hosts the 2011 World Cup.
Even after serving his term in the BCCI, Pawar remained the most influential cricket administrator in the country with Board president Shashank Manohar often turning to him for advice.
Pawar is perceived to have allowed Lalit Modi a freehand when the Indian Premier League (IPL) was launched even if some of other board members were not comfortable with Modi’s way of functioning.
Pawar chaired many a troubleshooting exercises at his New Delhi residence but he himself got involved in the IPL controversy with claims that his family made an unsuccessful bid for a franchise and kept the entire exercise secret.