The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on the 16th of January released its list of the players who were awarded annual contracts. The contracts were for a period of October 2019 to September 2020. And, as always some names were included, and some excluded from this with the biggest one being that of the former Indian captain, MS Dhoni.
All this while, the debate raged on among the fans regarding Dhoni’s exclusion, but the list also had some players were extremely lucky to have their names appear on the list. These players on many occasions have not been picked in the final XI in spite of being in the squad, have missed out on international cricket due to injuries, or are having a race against time owing to their age. Their inclusion in the list released by the BCCI has emerged as a topic of discussion.
So, here are the names of players, who were lucky to get themselves a contract:
1. Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur was placed in the grade C list. But, his selection in the list came in as a shocker for many. In the series gone by, Thakur was handy, came in handy with the bat but, could not become the strike bowler that the captain, Virat Kohli wants in the side, just in case, Jasprit Bumrah misses a match or two.
Thakur, after the series against Sri Lanka, was being hailed as an all-rounder as his fireworks with the bat, especially during the match in Pune where he helped India cross the finish line successfully. But, in the year gone by, he has not been that overwhelming for him to be handed a contract at such an early stage in his career. In his entire international career, which started in August 2017, against Sri Lanka, he has managed to be a part of the playing XI only on 18 occasions. And, in his 18 appearances, he has managed to scalp 21 wickets.
On the datasheet, Thakur’s numbers must look good enough to give him a chance, but his irregular appearances are enough a point for anyone to raise questions. His injuries have also added to the problem of him not being a regular feature in international cricket. Now that he has been awarded the contract, he should try and keep his body as fit as possible, work on fine-tuning his bowling and make the maximum out of the opportunities he gets to play for India in the coming days.
2. Kedar Jadhav
The 34-year-old jack of all trades from Pune, Kedar Jadhav was placed in grade C on the list. He will be getting a sum of INR 1 Crore in this period as a retainership fee. Jadhav is currently the part of the 15-member squad playing a bilateral series being played against Australia. But, he has not featured in any of the two One Day Internationals so far. And, with only one match to go before the series ends, his inclusion still remains doubtful.
With age catching up on Jadav, who will be almost 40 by the time of the next World Cup in 2023, his inclusion, came as an unexpected move by the BCCI. Given the current Indian set-up, Jadhav fits well in the current line-up of players, but when Hardik Pandya makes a return, his spot will be under the scanner. When Hardik returns, India will have 6 bowling options, with 4 full-time bowlers and two all-rounders in the form of Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja, both of whom are better in every aspect as compared to the man in question.
And, the selectors will be focussing on working on younger talents like Manish Pandey, who is, in fact, playing in the match that Kedar has been rested in. This means that there is not much time left for Jadhav in the Indian international set-up and given Hardik’s recovery, which is already on track, which means that time is going to run faster than expected.
3. Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari is one such name that hasn’t been heard in international cricket for quite some time now but has still managed to get himself a place in the contract list released by the BCCI. Even though it is in grade C, his inclusion in the list came in as an un-predictable move. The last time he played for India was back in October last year and has played only Test cricket so far.
Even in the lone format, he has represented team India, he has not been a regular feature. On many instances, in spite of being a part of the delegation, he was not picked in the playing XI. This is the reason that in his year-long career, he has been a part of only 7 Test matches.
His number of Test appearances makes him one of the least experienced players in the list. Although, it can be argued that he has the potential, but him not being picked in the XI again and again in spite of being in the team does raise concern.
All of this, along with him not being picked in the IPL, causing him to start rebuilding his career in the shorter format from almost scratch, makes him vulnerable to being labelled as a Test match specialist. He has the skill and temperament to make it big on the international stage and now that the folks at BCCI have shown confidence in him, he will have to prove his worth at every stage and make himself eligible for a contract in a higher tier in the coming year.
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