Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar has joined the big leagues with the BCCI giving the 24-year-old a Grade A contract, while the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Mohammed Shami also received a jump up in their pay grades as well as the Indian cricket board announced the list of contracted players for the new season.
Bhuvneshwar's star is certainly shining bright at the moment, having been named BCCI player of the year, and even if an ankle injury has hampered his chances of making an impression in the Australia series so far, there is little doubt that the swing bowler is one of the main men that MS Dhoni turns to with the ball in all formats of the game.
The fast bowler will hope to be fit in time for the third Test in Melbourne which begins on Boxing Day, even if it looks doubtful. India need to win the Test match to stay in the series, after Australia won the first two matches – in Adelaide and Brisbane.
Shami, Rahane and Rayudu went up from Grade C to Grade B, while several of the players from last season were retained in the lower grade as well. Players who have not been named in the contracted list, and are picked for the India cricket team will be automatically placed under the Grade C list.
While the likes of Bhuvneshwar, Rahane, Rayudu, Shami and more have been rewarded for their performances for the India team in 2014, the ones who have not quite fared as well have been cut with the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik, all of whom also failed to make the 30-man probables list for the World Cup, completely dropped form the contracted list y the BCCI.
Contracted Grade Lists: Grade A: MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Grade B: Pragyan Ojha, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Mohammed Shami.
Grade C: Amit Mishra, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Stuart Binny, Pankaj Singh, R Vinay Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Parveez Rasool, Akshar Patel, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, Karn Sharma, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep Yadav, KL Rahul.