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. (More Cricket News)
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 told PTI 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.