BCCI have announced the annual contracts for the 2020-21 season, stretching until September 2021, and there are a few pointers that tell us what India might be planning for the future.
BCCI’s annual contracts have Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma in the Grade A+ category, but the levels below have some interesting names and a few surprising player movements.
Are India moving away from their limited-overs spinners?
In the white-ball series against England recently, Yuzvendra Chahal had an ordinary outing while Kuldeep Yadav continued his extensive run of poor form. India tested Rahul Chahar in the T20Is and the experiment returned rewards. If that’s a possible sign that India are moving to a different limited-overs spinner, the annual contract sort of seals the thought.
Chahal and Kuldeep have both been demoted to a Grade C contract and it’s likely that we’ll see them both missing the next few limited-overs games. Kuldeep hasn’t started for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, while Chahal has had middling returns despite playing on the spin-friendly Chepauk wicket. Now’s the right time to be a happening spinner in the country with the team open to trying out new options.
Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill and Axar Patel get contracts
Siraj had a massive series in Australia where he showed he could be an excellent third wheel in a full-strength pace attack and Shubman Gill displaced Mayank Agarwal as Rohit Sharma’s partner at the top. Both have been given a Grade C contract and it’s likely that we’ll see them used heavily in England during the WTC final and the following Test series against England.
Axar Patel’s inclusion suggests that India see him as a possible third spinner in home Tests even when Ravindra Jadeja is back in contention after his injury.
No place for the old-time regulars
Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey have lost their contracts with neither playing a single game in the last contract period. India have started placing more trust in younger players coming through the system and the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan could get more game time in both limited-overs formats going forward. India have often been criticised for sticking to their regular group of players and this move shows they are trying to look forward with major tournaments lined up in the near future.
But why are the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya without a contract?
Non-regulars who will likely get contracts going forward
Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Sanju Samson and Rahul Chahar might get contracts in the future if they meet the minimum criteria set by BCCI. A player has to play a minimum of three Tests, eight ODIs or 10 T20Is to be rewarded with a central contract and these players don’t fit that criteria. However, if they go on to meet the criteria by September 2021, they will be given a contract on a pro-rata basis. More on this here.
Hardik Pandya with a grade A contract
Hardik Pandya has been only a part-time option with the ball recently with his workload being managed after his back injury. He played a couple of impactful knocks in Australia, but has otherwise not really done enough to be considered a pure batting option. Even though he has been talked up as an option in Test cricket, without his bowling, India have been reluctant to use him in the longest format. As such, his promotion to Grade A is interesting and shows that India trust him to become a crucial member across formats in the near future. Will we see him play the World Test Championship final as a batting all-rounder?
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