Jagmohan Dalmiya - Cricket administrator who rose like the phoenix

Kolkata, June 3 (IANS) Nearly six-and-half years after he was ignominiously expelled from the cricket board, and forced to quit as Cricket Association of Bengal president, Jagmohan Dalmiya has risen like the proverbial phoenix to yet again head the world's richest cricket body, albeit temporarily.

Even days back, as the raging spot fixing scandal rocked Indian cricket, nobody had an inkling that the seasoned sports administrator - credited with having changed the face of the game through his marketing skills - would make a comeback at the top of Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI).

However, he seemed to have played his cards well, working on a beleaguered and gradually friendless BCCI chief N. Srinivasan, to elevate himself to the apex position in the BCCI.

But, midway into the last decade, it seemed almost next to impossible for the astute administrator to be in any kind of reckoning following his abrupt fall in the cricket administration.

After serving a tenure as International Cricket Council chief for three years since 1997, Dalmiya became BCCI president in 2001 and continued to be the all-in-all in the board till his tenure ended in 2004.

Late that year, Dalmiya foisted his acolyte Ranbir Singh Mahendra as BCCI president in a tantalizingly close election where then union minister Sharad Pawar threw his hat into the ring for the top post.

As the election ended in a tie, Dalmiya gave his casting vote to ensure Mahendra's victory, prompting a dejected Pawar to remark that the entire process was unfair.

"The umpire was the bowler," Pawar had quipped after his loss.

Dalmiya then controlled the board by proxy for a year, with Mahendra being a mere puppet. But the Pawar camp fought back by using all means - court battles, political pressure, and other strategies - to checkmate Dalmiya at his own game in the 2005 election.

Pawar registered an emphatic victory to become BCCI chief while his team won all the other key posts, as the Dalmiya camp suffered an embarrassing defeat.

Months later, the BCCI lodged a police complaint against Dalmiya for alleged misappropriation of funds related to the 1996 World Cup in which India was a co-host.

As Damiya faced a police probe, the BCCI expelled him in December 2006, that also forced him to step down as the Bengal cricket president.

In mid-2007 Dalmiya was exonerated by the court, and he returned to head the CAB in 2008, by defeating then president Prasun Mukherjee. However, in the next few years Dalmiya seemed only a shadow of the former self, shorn of his influence in the board.

But silently he started mending fences with his detractors in the board including the likes of Lalit Modi, one of the architects of the Indian Premier League.

When Modi was ousted as the IPL commissioner and forced to leave the country, Dalmiya started patching up with the Srinivasan-Sashank Monohar combine, though Pawar continued to be an arch enemy.

Pawar, then the ICC chief, is alleged to have played a key role in robbing Eden Gardens of an India-England World Cup match in 2011, due to an under-prepared stadium to further embarrass Dalmiya.

But the wily cricket administrator bided his time to effect what may be called a fairy tale comeback.

According to a board source, Dalmiya will function as its top executive - in Srinivasan's absence - and if secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke refuse to withdraw their resignations, then nominate their replacements.

He will also appoint Jagdale's replacement in the IPL spot fixing probe commission.

Only a day after his name was floated by the CAB, Dalmiya was Sunday told to take care of the day-to-day affairs of the board after Srinivasan stepped aside in the wake of the spot fixing scandal.

At the peak of his career, Dalmiya was known as a trouble shooter par excellence. It though remains to be seen how the astute administrator tackles Indian cricket's latest scandal.

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