The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday ratified the annual contract list with Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Hardik Pandya losing their Grade A status. (More Cricket News)
Veteran batter Pujara and former Test vice-captain Rahane were downgraded in the latest central contracts list which was ratified by the BCCI's Apex Council today, according to PTI. Both the players had earlier failed to make the squad for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka. The BCCI is expected to issue the contracts for the 2021-22 season in the coming days.
The biggest demotion, however, was for injury-ravaged all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has been shunted out from Grade A to C in the list.
According to Cricbuzz, "Among the 27 players who are going to be awarded contracts for the 2021-22 season, the BCCI has placed Pandya, once considered one of the most valuable players in Indian cricket, in Grade C. Opener Shikhar Dhawan has also been identically downgraded from Grade A to Grade C."
Controversial wicketkeeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha, who has been dropped from the Test team, has also been demoted, from Grade B to C.
The BCCI has four categories -- A+ which has annual remuneration of Rs 7 crore while A, B and C categories are valued at Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 1 crore respectively.
Last April, the BCCI had revealed a 28-player contract list for the men’s national team for the period between October 2020 and September 2021. Mohamed Siraj, Shubhman Gill and Axar Patel were the three new names in the group.
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah were in the top bracker of Grade A+.
Grade A had ten players, including the above-mentioned trio. Others are - Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Rishabh Pant.
Now, Grade A has only five with only Ashwin, Jadeja, Pant, Rahul and Shami retaining their respective slots. Veteran opener Dhawan also finds himself in Grade C.
Saha, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur and Mayank Agarwal had made up the five-player Grade B.
Besides Saha, Agarwal has also been demoted to Grade C.
Ten players -- Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj -- were in the Grade C.
Now, spinner Yadav and pacer Saini failed to find their names in the list altogether.
Siraj is now in Grade B while Suryakumar Yadav makes the cut in Grade C.
In the women's central contracts, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad joined Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Yadav in Grade A which has an annual retainership fee of Rs 50 lakh.
Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami remain in group B (Rs 30 lakh) while Jemimah Rodrigues has been demoted from Group B to C (Rs 10 lakh).