If there is one player India have missed badly during their first two Test defeats in Australia, it is Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been out due to an ankle injury. The young seam bowling all-rounder's meteoric rise was officially recognized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as he was awarded a grade ` A' contract which would allow him to take home a pay cheque of at least Rs 10 million regardless of his performance or availability. That he has replaced retired legend Sachin Tendulkar in this elite list of players, which includes skipper MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin and Suresh Raina, should make this 24-year-old from Uttar Pradesh smile even more with pride.
“We have a set formula for calculating these things. He has performed consistently for India in the concerned period (September 2013 till now), and deserves his promotion. He is a key player for us in the World Cup and this should motivate him,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said, while explaining Bhuvi's promotion from the `B' to ` A' grade.
Kumar has delivered regularly with the ball and even with the bat at times ever since his debut in international cricket a couple of years ago. With 19 wickets and three fifties, he was one of the few success stories of India's disappointing Test series defeat in England.
In all, the list of contracted players has increased from 25 to 34 this time. Not surprisingly, senior players Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, who have been left out of the 2015 World Cup's 30-man probables list, haven't been given a contract this time. Both have been removed from the Grade `B' pool and it gives a fair idea where these two talented batsmen stand in the current scenario.
Raina and Ashwin's continuation in the Grade ` A' contract list is debatable. Though both are exceptional limited overs performers, Raina has failed to make the cut in the Test side over the past two years, while Ashwin too isn't a surety in the XI outside India. In this context, Ajinkya Rahane, who has done well in tough overseas conditions in all formats in the past year, had a genuine case for a Grade `A' contract, though he has jumped from `C' to `B'.
`Keeper Dinesh Karthik and seamer Jaydev Unadkat found themselves out in the cold with a 13 new players earning Grade `C' contracts.The notable names are youngsters `chinaman' Kuldeep Yadav and opener KL Rahul, who are yet to play for India.
Patel said that the Board was mindful of the player's cause even as it was locked in legal wrangles currently. “To be honest, it (announcing the new player contracts) was long overdue, but due to our Annual General Meeting (AGM) being postponed, we weren't able to do it so far. We don't want the players to suffer due to legal issues. They are entitled to this.We must remember that they won't come home till the World Cup,“ he said.