The BCCI has dropped struggling opener Shikhar Dhawan and pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the highest category of central contracts but promoted young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant to the second highest A category. The Indian cricket Board (BCCI) announced the annual contracts late on Thursday night with Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar, who no longer are certainties in all three formats, being dropped from the A+ category, where a player gets a retainer of Rs 7 crore.
India skipper Virat Kohli, ODI vice-captain Rohit Sharma and pacer Jasprit Bumrah are now the only three players in the A+ category. It is not a surprise that Dhawan’s contract has been downgraded considering that he is no longer a part of the Test set-up and endured an ordinary last three months in the limited overs format.
Pant, on the other hand, has been rewarded for his good show in Test cricket and has jumped directly into the A group after being ignored last year. The A category players get Rs 5 crore. The southpaw hit hundreds in England and Australia and seems ready to take on the mantle from Mahendra Singh Dhoni once the former captain retires.
The other players in the A category are Dhoni, Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar, Mohammad Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. Chinaman Kuldeep, who has become India’s frontline spinner in all three formats, has also been promoted to A from the B category. Murali Vijay, who was in the A category until last year, has been dropped altogether after a dismal Test tour of Australia.
Pujara, despite his stupendous show in Australia, remains in the A category as he is only one-format player. All-rounder Hardik Pandya and opener KL Rahul continue to remain in the B category where a player fetches Rs 3 crore. The others in the same category are leggie Yuzvendara Chahal and pacer Umesh Yadav.
The C category, where a player receives Rs 1 crore, comprises Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Khaleel Ahmed, Kedar Jadhav and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who missed the most of the season due to an injury and last played for India in January 2018.