Will Rahane and Pujara retain Grade A retainership? Rahul, Pant eye promotion to A+
Veteran batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane's position in group A of the BCCI central contracts could be up for deliberation when the board finalises its fresh list of contracted players for the upcoming season in a few days' time.
Another big question is whether the BCCI top brass is in a mood to upgrade two future captaincy contenders -- KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant -- alongside Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah in the elite A+ category.
The BCCI has four categories -- A+, A, B and C -- which carry annual retainership of Rs 7 crore, Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 1 crore respectively.
Normally, it is the three office-bearers, five selectors and the national head coach, who decide retainerships.
As of now, there won't be massive changes to the 28 names that featured in the last list but there could be some serious discussions about the composition of the current groups which were in place last year.
"Obviously, Rohit, Kohli and Bumrah being the three indispensable players across formats would be in A plus category beyond doubt. But now Rahul and Pant are slowly establishing themselves as all-format regulars, so it needs to be seen whether the duo gets promotion or not," a senior BCCI source said on conditions of anonymity.
But what could be a more debatable issue is Pujara and Rahane's status after a year of consistent non-performance.
"The central contract is a performance indicator of where you stand as per your performance during the last season. If the BCCI and head coach (Rahul) Dravid decide to honour the duo and keep them in group A, then it's a different issue but under normal circumstances, they ideally won't feature in group A," the source said.
Ditto for Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya, who have both struggled due to injuries and lack of form throughout the season and could feature in group B.
Similarly, among the group B players of last season, only Shardul Thakur, who has had some impactful performances in Test matches, can be hopeful of a promotion to group A.
In current group C, Mohammed Siraj is one man, who has shown tremendous improvement while Shubman Gill is one for the future along with Hanuma Vihari, who would also be expecting an upgrade.
Among newcomers, the likes of Venkatesh Iyer and Harshal Patel could make their maiden cut.
Last Season's (2021) Contract List
Grade A+: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah
Grade A: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya
Grade B: Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Mayank Agarwal
Grade C: Kuldeep Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Siraj.