Millennium Post (Kolkata)

Virat, Rohit and Bumrah remain in top bracket

All-rounder Hardik Pandya promoted to grade A


NEW DELHI: The star trio of India captain Virat Kohli, his white-ball deputy Rohit Sharma and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah retained their top bracket BCCI contracts, worth Rs 7 crore each, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya earned a promotion despite an injury-plagued season.

A total of 28 cricketers were awarded central contracts in four categories on Thursday.

At this moment in Indian cricket, there are only three certaintie­s across formats and the scenario hasn't changed with Kohli, Rohit and Bumrah being the elite of elites.

All-rounder Pandya is one of the notable promotions to Grade A, which is worth Rs 5 crore, despite the fact that he endured a back injury which has prevented him from bowling for much of the last year. He was in Grade B last year.

"Hardik is very much in line to play Test matches in England and will be one of the most important players after our A+ cricketers when we play the T20 World Cup. So Hardik's promotion is about what he brings to the team. That's what the selectors have factored in," a senior BCCI official said on conditions of anonymity.

Rookies Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj have got their maiden central contracts worth Rs 1 crore in grade C while Shardul Thakur has been elevated to group B.

The trio has been rewarded for lion-hearted performanc­es during India's historic Test triumph in Australia this year.

Among the demotions, pacer Bhuvneshwa­r Kumar has dropped to Grade B, which is worth Rs 3 crore, while Kedar Jadhav has been dropped for good.

Bhuvneshwa­r's demotion from A to B comes in the wake of prolonged absences due to different injuries and he is no longer an all-format regular.

The biggest setback has come for left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has been pushed down two notches from Grade A to C.

"Kuldeep is slowly slipping down the radar and he should consider himself lucky that he has managed to retain his contract," said the source.

However Shikhar Dhawan, who is now a certainty in only one format (ODI), has managed to remain in category A along with Test specialist­s Ravichandr­an Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Axar Patel's 27-wicket haul against England at home has also got him back in the central contracts fold. One is required to play a minimum of three Test matches to enter the lowest bracket.

Rishabh Pant, who is certainly a future A+ candidate, has retained his grade A position after a dream four months where he has singlehand­edly won Test matches against Australia and England.

The list of BCCI's annual contracts:

GRADE A+ (Rs 7 crore): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.

GRADE A (Rs 5 crore): R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya.

GRADE B (Rs 3 crore): Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwa­r Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Mayank Agarwal.

GRADE C (Rs 1 crore): Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari , Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj.

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