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Men's Central Contracts: End of the road for Rahane, Bhuvneshwar?

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | March 27, 2023 02:33 PM

NEW DELHI: Late on Sunday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the list of central contracts for the men's team players for the period between October 2022 to September 2023.

While four Grade A+ players will take home a sum of INR seven crores each, five players have been slotted in Grade A worth INR 5 crore. Six players have been put in Grade B contract worth INR 3 crore, while Grade C contract worth INR 1 crore has 11 players.

IANS looks at some of the observations which have come up from the central contracts list: -

Jadeja, Axar, Hardik among big movers: - Despite missing a lot of cricket from September 2022 due to knee injury which needed surgery, left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been given a promotion to A+ contract which has captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah.

Ever since he made a comeback to the Indian Test and ODI set-up, Jadeja has put up crucial performances with the bat and ball, and picked Player of the Match awards in the team's first two Test wins over Australia in Nagpur and New Delhi. His all-round utility has led to him being given the highest grade in central contract.

Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya are the other big movers too, being rewarded for being consistent performers for the Indian team. While Axar, who has produced effective performances in all formats, has moved to Grade A from B, Hardik's resurgence as a white-ball player and captaining India on numerous occasions has got him promoted to Grade A, from C respectively.

Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav are the other big movers too, going to Grade B from C. Gill has notched up centuries in all formats of the game, including a double hundred against New Zealand in Hyderabad. Suryakumar, on the other hand, was the best batter in T20Is in 2022 and has kept that form going in shortest format apart from unimpressive ODI returns and earning his maiden Test cap.

Rahul and Shardul demoted: - Opener KL Rahul has been demoted to the Grade B slab in the central contracts, after being in Grade A previously. Though he's been a dependable wicketkeeper-batter in ODIs, Rahul is no longer in the T20I squad and was also dropped from the Test playing eleven after the first two Tests against Australia, apart from losing vice-captaincy.

All-rounder Shardul Thakur has also moved down from Grade B to C. With Hardik being back to his prime best in white-ball matches, it has meant Thakur has got sporadic chances of playing for India in all formats.

No room for Rahane, Ishant, Bhuvneshwar: - Through the list, it seems like it is the end of the road for Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Rahane was ousted from the Test side after the end of South Africa tour and hasn't set the domestic stage on fire with the bat.

Ishant, on the other hand, hardly featured in the last domestic season, and though he's with Delhi Capitals in IPL 2023, it will be a long road for him to be back in contention for the Indian team.

Bhuvneshwar, on the other hand, hasn't featured for India in T20Is after the New Zealand series in November last year. Other notable omissions include Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha and Deepak Chahar

Dhawan retains his place: - In the Grade C contract list where Kuldeep Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Sanju Samson, Arshdeep Singh, and KS Bharat are new entrants, Shikhar Dhawan has managed to retain his place in the grade. Dhawan, the veteran left-handed opener, hasn't played in ODIs since the tour of Bangladesh last year as Kishan and then Gill came into prominence.

But by giving him a central contract, it seems that the vastly experienced Dhawan is still in plans for the Indian team's ODI World Cup squad plans, so as Jasprit Bumrah, who hasn't played since September last year and is still recovering from back injury, and is in A+ category.

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