Senior opener Shikhar Dhawan and pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar were on Thursday dropped from the highest category of central contracts for India players while young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant was rewarded with an entry into the A category. The 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 the only three players in the A+ category. Dhawan’s contract being downgraded is not a surprise considering he is no longer a part of the Test set-up and has had 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 richer by Rs 5 crore.
The southpaw has been rewarded for his hundreds in England and Australia and he is ready to take on the mantle from Mahendra Singh Dhoni once he retires from limited overs.
The other players in the A category are Dhoni, Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar, Mohammad Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Cheteswar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.
Chinaman Kuldeep, who has become India’s frontline spinner in all three formats, has 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 category B 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.