The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday announced the central contract list for the current season.
The elite list comprises only three players – skipper Virat Kohli, his limited-overs deputy Rohit Sharma and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.
Opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who isn’t a part of the Test setup and has had a poor last three months in the limited-overs formats, has been demoted from A-plus to A category.
The A-plus category players get a yearly retainer fee of Rs 7 crore, while ‘A’ category players get richer by Rs 5 crore.
Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has fallen off the radar as an all-format player, has also been demoted to Grade A.
However, the young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has been rewarded for his good show in Test cricket and has directly been included in the A group after being ignored last year.
Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who has become India’s frontline spinner in all three formats, has been promoted to A from the ‘B’ category. Test specialist Murali Vijay, who was in the A category until last year, has been dropped altogether after a dismal tour of Australia.
Cheteshwar Pujara, despite his stupendous show in Australia, remains in the ‘A’ category since he plays only the Test format.
Meanwhile, the likes of Khaleel Ahmed and Hanuma Vihari have earned a Grade C contract for the first time while Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Parthiv Patel and Jayant Yadav who all had contracts in the previous cycle have been left out of the current one.
A total of 25 players have been given central contracts. Vijay Shankar, despite being part of the Indian ODI and T20I squads didn’t feature in the list.
Grade A-plus players (Rs 7 crore): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Grade A players (Rs 5 crore): Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Mohammed Shami
Grade B players (Rs 3 crore): KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
Grade C players (Rs 1 crore): Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Khaleel Ahmed.