The Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India announced the list of annual contracts for the Indian Men’s cricket team for the period [October 2019-September 2020]. The players, as always, were divided into four distinct groups- A+, A, B, and C. Indian captain Virat Kohli, white-ball vice-captain Rohit Sharma, and the No.1 ranked ODI bowler in the world Jasprit Bumrah are the only three players who have been awarded the A+ contracts [Rs 7 Crore].
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, the ever-so-reliable Cheteshwar Pujara, openers KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and the fast bowling duo of Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma have been awarded with the Grade A contracts [Rs 5 Crore]
Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, and Mayank Agarwal have been bracketed under the Grade B pay scale of Rs 3 Crore while likes of Kedar Jadhav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer, and Washington Sundar are a part of Grade C contract [Rs 1 Crore].
So, who are the ones who missed out on an elusive contract? Here are the 4 missing players from player contracts:
4. Khaleel Ahmed
Khaleel Ahmed was touted as India’s problems as far as the paucity of the left-arm pacers in their white-ball set-up is concerned when he made his debut for the national side against Hong Kong during the 2018 Asia Cup. He even travelled with India during their tour of Australia in 2018 where he featured in the T20I series, but could only muster 3 wickets at an average of 38.67. The southpaw had a slightly better outing during the T20Is in New Zealand where he claimed 4 wickets at an average of 30.
But, his economy rate and the inconsistency in line and length proved to be a major issue and the left-hander was dropped from the T20I series at home against the Aussies. Ahmed returned for the T20I series in the West Indies but could only manage a solitary wicket. Ahmed’s final game came during the Bangladesh series where he swatted mercilessly and was dropped thereafter.
With the likes of Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur making the most of their opportunities, Ahmed has dropped down substantially in the pegging order, and it was reflected when his name went missing in the annual contract-retainer list.
3. Dinesh Karthik
You’ve got to feel for Dinesh Karthik! Just 18 months ago, he was the flavour of Indian cricket. After his gobsmacking eight-ball 27 in the finals of Nidahas Trophy, where he stroked a last-ball six to script a miraculous win for Team India.
Such was the impact of DK’s performance that he was being hailed as the true successor of MS Dhoni in the role of a finisher. He was even inducted into the Test side for the tour of England but was dropped midway following the failures in the first two matches.
DK continued to be a part of the white-ball teams but even that ended with India’s heartbreaking defeat to New Zealand in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup, where his innings was cut short by a one-handed stunner by James Neesham. Karthik was one of the collateral damage of that semi-final defeat, and the writing was pretty much on the wall as far as his name in the annual contract was concerned.
2. Ambati Rayudu
From being declared as the designated No.4, four months ahead of the 2019 World Cup to losing his spot to ‘three-dimensional’ Vijay Shankar to announcing an emotional retirement to now missing out on BCCI’s national contract, life have come a complete circle for Ambati Rayudu.
Rayudu, who was the Player of the series in India’s 4-1 win over New Zealand last year, was dumped from the Indian squad as the team-management opted to go-in for a ‘three-dimensional’ all-rounder Vijay Shankar after a couple of underwhelming performances in the home series against Australia.
Rayudu had given it all to realize his dream of playing in the World Cup and it wasn’t easy for him to accept his fate, which was reflected by his cheeky ‘3-D jibe’ at the national selectors and then by his emotional retirement from all forms of the game after uncapped Mayank Agarwal was chosen ahead of him as an injury replacement later in the tournament.
He did come out of retirement and was involved in the domestic season before he took back his name from the Ranji squad after alleging the state-association of corruption.
1. MS Dhoni
Last, but definitely not the least, Mahendra Singh Dhoni! One of the biggest omissions from the annual contract list was former World Cup-winning captain MS Dhoni. Dhoni last turned up for India in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup where he was run-out in an agonizing manner by Martin Guptill.
Since then, Dhoni has been on a sabbatical from national duties and speculations have galore International future with fans, former cricketers, pundits, writers, and editors everyone debating on whether we will ever see MS Dhoni turning up for the country again. Head Coach Ravi Shastri has time and again iterated that MS Dhoni’s participation in the upcoming T20 World Cup hinges solely on how he and the other wicketkeeper-batsman perform in the Indian Premier League.
But, what does Dhoni not getting an annual contract indicated about the champion former captain’s International future? Is it curtains? Currently, it looks that way, but you never know with Indian cricket. Things change here pretty quickly and all of Dhoni fans will certainly be hoping that it changes for the better.
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