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News

Mahendra Kumar Sharma, one of the pioneers of women's cricket in India, dies

He registered the Women's Cricket Association of India under the Societies Act in Lucknow in 1973

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
09-Nov-2022
Mahendra Kumar Sharma, one of the pioneers of women's cricket in India, died in Pune on Tuesday (November 8). He had been ailing for a while and was in his early 80s.
Sharma leaves behind a rich sporting legacy that he set in stone in 1973, when he registered the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) under the Societies Act in Lucknow.
The WCAI would be in existence for the next 32 years before BCCI took over the running of the women's game in 2006.
Sharma was a founding secretary of the WCAI for its first five years and was in charge of India's hosting of their first-ever Women's World Cup in 1978 at a time when the governing body largely relied on donations from individuals and the government.
During its existence, the WCAI hosted two Women's World Cups, including a successful 1997 edition where England played Australia in the final in front of nearly 80,000 fans at Eden Gardens.
"Mr Sharma set the foundation stone for women's cricket in the country," former India women allrounder Shubhangi Kulkarni told ESPNcricinfo. "His efforts in setting up the WCAI and getting recognition from the world body - International Women's Cricket Council (IWCC) - as well as the Indian government was huge at the time.
"He ensured players got the publicity they needed at the time. His passion and vision for women's cricket at a time when there was no money was unmatched. It started with him organising the first-ever women's nationals in India in 1973 as a three-team event. Then it grew to six, eight and 14 teams. To start from there and then play a key role in bringing the World Cup was quite an achievement."
Under his watch, India women also played their first-ever Test in 1976 in Bengaluru.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo