The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on January 16, 2020, announced the list of its centrally contracted players of the Indian Men’s cricket team for the upcoming season October 2019-September 2020.
There were some new names in the list like Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, and Washington Sundar included in the list, some of the names were also excluded, who failed to perform admirably in the previous calendar year. 27 players were divided into four categories, with Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma included in the topmost A+ Category which nets them a sum of INR 7 crore.
However, there were some names that deserved to be included in the other categories as well but were ignored by the Indian cricket board for a variety of reasons.
Here are five such players who should have been given a central annual contract by the BCCI:
1. Shivam Dube
The Mumbaikar Shivam Dube showed signs of making up for the loss of Hardik Pandya as a fast-bowling all-rounder in the Indian team when he came into prominence for smoking five sixes in an over in the finals of the Mumbai T20 league. Boasting of a good record in domestic cricket, Dube was the one player who impressed with both bat and ball.
He made his T20I debut against Bangladesh and his ODI debut against West Indies. He made a half-century in the 20-over format versus the Windies, while picked three wickets against Bangladesh in the series-deciding encounter. He showed his hitting prowess against the Men in Maroon but failed to somehow convince the selectors.
His non-inclusion from the BCCI’s annual contract list may be a signal that the board wants more consistent performances from him with the ball and some responsible innings from the extremely talented big-hitting all-rounder and until Hardik makes a full recovery, Dube has chances in New Zealand to impress. Though, he is short of the qualification criteria of 3 Tests or eight ODIs; Dube has played 8 T20I matches, which may get him the nod for a contract in the coming time if good performance continues.
2. Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill continues to find himself on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to show his prowess in the middle for the Indian team, after his brief two-match ODI stint against New Zealand in 2019. It was a tough initiation for the U19 World Cup star, as he managed just 16 runs in two innings.
With Pandya and Rahul returning to the fold, he was asked to make runs in domestic cricket to force his way through. He has done so with 1710 runs in 19 FC matches and 2176 runs in 54 List-A games. He also has 777 runs in 37 T20 games with a total of 11 centuries and the best score of 268. He averages a high 63.33 in domestic FC matches and is travelling to New Zealand for India A tour as the captain for the tour matches and limited-overs games.
Gill forced his way into the Test squad as well, against South Africa as the backup opener and will be competing with Prithvi Shaw for the same position in the upcoming two-match Tests against the Kiwis. The Punjab-born batsman may be short of the eligibility criteria for the BCCI annual contract, but he is someone who should have been included for the same given his impressive skills and quality with the bat.
3. Krunal Pandya
Krunal Pandya came into the Indian team with much ability and performance in Indian Premier League and shined well before losing his form and been excluded from the team. The Baroda all-rounder and elder brother of Hardik Pandya, Krunal came into prominence for his impressive outings with both the bat and the ball for Baroda and was picked by Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
He played an impressive in 2017 edition and has been a permanent fixture in their playing XI. He has done well for India as well in 18 T20Is, he has picked 14 wickets and made 121 runs, with his best performance coming against Australia at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground when he picked 4/36, the best bowling figures by a spinner in T20Is down under.
However, when things came home, he failed to pick any wicket in a stretch of five T20I matches, which led to him being dropped from the team after the Bangladesh T20I series and missed the West Indies encounters. He has been however named in the India A team for the New Zealand tour and will have a chance to stake a claim for a berth in the upcoming Asia Cup and also for the T20 World Cup.
4. Dinesh Karthik
It is hard to believe that Dinesh Karthik, who was the toast of the nation some 18 months ago, when hit a last-ball six against Bangladesh to win India the Nidahas T20 tri-series and then helped India win more matches as a finisher. He even played his second ICC World Cup, more than a decade after his first one in 2007.
He was looked as a successor for MS Dhoni in the T20 format, he played his last white-ball game for India against New Zealand in the heartbreaking semi-final match of the World Cup, in which he made 6 runs and hasn’t been considered since for any games, meaning that he missed a lot of games during this time.
Karthik is a veteran with 94 ODIs, 26 Tests and 32 T20I matches to his name for his country with one century and 16 half-centuries in various formats over the period of 16 years.
The 34-year-old has been in good form for Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket in both white and red-ball format and has been on the cusp of making a comeback, but it seems the selectors have moved on from him and onto youngsters backing Rishabh Pant and finding new finishers.
But what they are missing out by ignoring Karthik is the experience he provides in the lower order which has young blood like Dube, Pandya and Pant and need some guiding light in absence of Dhoni.
5. MS Dhoni
This probably was the big announcement MS Dhoni was talking about in January when he was last asked about his comeback to the Indian team by a reporter late last year. The 28-year-old former India captain played his last game in the semi-final of the 2019 ICC World Cup against New Zealand, where his run out on his score of 50, ended Indian hopes of another tournament final.
Whenever questions of his return emerged, many experts including India head coach Ravi Shastri feel that a comeback is only possible on basis of how Dhoni performs in the upcoming Indian Premier League 2020, when he will lead the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Dhoni last played in front of his home crowd in Ranchi against Australia last year and many felt that it was kind of poetic, as he was then replaced by Rishabh Pant in the team.
With his name being excluded from the contract’s list, many see the writing on the wall for the career of MS Dhoni; but his die-hard fans know that there is one more knockout punch left in the strong arms of the Indian wicketkeeper-batsman, who has won two World Cups for the team and a fitting farewell should be with another trophy to his cabinet.
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