Cheteshwar Pujara has had a glorious summer in Australia. The Saurashtra right-hander became only the third batsman to hit three centuries in a series Down Under and his centuries have set up key moments for India. His century in Adelaide helped India win a first Test of the series in Australia for the first time ever and his ton in Melbourne broke 37 years of pain to help India win the Boxing Day Test for the first time and ensure the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was retained. In Sydney, his brilliant 193 helped India amass their second-highest score in Australia as India stayed on course for a maiden Test series win in Australia.
His 521 runs at an average of 74 are the key reasons for India’s magnificent show and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is considering upgrading Pujara to the top bracket in the central contracts list, according to a report in PTI. It is believed that Vinod Rai, the Committee of Administrators head will discuss this issue with MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors as well as with Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli.
“Pujara's brilliant performance deserves recognition. The CoA chief will discuss with the team management and the chief selector to check if the rule for all-format specialists in the top bracket can be relaxed. Pujara's elevation to the top bracket could well be a message for youngsters that performance in Test cricket will be given top priority,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
After the revised pay structure approved in 2018, A plus category players get Rs seven crore while A category, to which Pujara currently belongs, comes with a pay cheque of Rs five crore. The B and C category players get Rs three and one crore respectively. The central contract could see another course correction with Rishabh Pant, now the first choice keeper in Tests, being reinstated in the system after being dropped for the current financial year. The A Plus category comprises skipper Kohli, limited overs deputy Rohit Sharma, all-format pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and senior opener Shikhar Dhawan.
A win or draw in Sydney will make Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team the first side to ever win a Test series in Australia and it will erase all the pains of previous overseas losses.