Former Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and opener batter Cheteshwar Pujara were downgraded in the latest central contracts list of the BCCI that was ratified by the Board’s Apex Council on Wednesday.
The BCCI has four categories — A+ which has annual remuneration of Rs 7 crore while A, B and C categories are valued at Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 1 crore respectively.
Last time, 28 cricketers were provided central contracts but this year, 27 have been awarded contracts with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah static as A+ players.
Accordingly, Pujara, Rahane and Ishant Sharma, who were in Grade A are now in Grade B, after a slump in form that saw them being dropped from the upcoming home Test series against Sri Lanka.
Group A, which earlier had 10 players, has now shrunk to five with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Mohammed Shami retaining their slots.
The biggest demotion, however, was for injury-ravaged all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has been shunted out from Grade A to C in the list along with senior opener Shikhar Dhawan, who now plays only one format and that is ODIs.
Controversial keeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha, who has been dropped from the Test team, will still be richer by Rs 1 crore after being demoted from group B to C.
Saha, who has breached the central contract clause by public comments on selection matters and statements on BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and head coach Rahul Dravid, has been kept in group C even though it has been made clear by the team management that he is unlikely to play for India again.
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Navdeep Saini, who were part of the earlier group, have been dropped from the list altogether.