BCCI has announced the latest contracts for the Indian men's team and it hasn't been all good news for the players. Although the central contracts have doubled from 1 crore, 50 lakh and 25 (for Grade A, B and C) to 2 crore, 1 crore and 50 lakh (for Grade A, B and C), not every player has made the cut.
The 2015/16 contract saw 26 players get central contracts and while the number has gone up to 32 this time around, not all players all likely to be happy. While Ravindra Jadeja, who is currently the No.1 ranked Test bowler was promoted to Grade A from C and KL Rahul jumped from C to B, several players missed out on a contract altogether.
Seven players who had a contract last time around don't have one now. While a couple, Karn Sharma and Sreenath Aravind, were never regulars in the side, there are five others who missed out from the contracts handed out for 2015/16 season.
Here are 5 players who missed out on the central contract for 2016/17:
#5 Stuart Binny
When Stuart Binny produced a magical spell of 6/4 in an ODI, India thought they had finally found the all-rounder they had been looking for. Someone who could swing the ball and be effective with the bat lower down the order. But unfortunately for Binny things haven't gone according to plan.
Despite having a Grade C BCCI contract (25 lakh) during the period 2015/16, Binny played just one game for India in 2016. And the only game was a T20I against West Indies in the USA, in which he was smashed for five sixes and went for 32 runs in his only over.
He hasn't played for India since then and the rise of Hardik Pandya combined with India's impressive pace attack means that he is unlikely to do so in the near future as well, barring injuries. So it was little surprise then that he wasn't given a central contract by the BCCI.
#4 Varun Aaron
Once hailed as India's fastest bowler and the hopes on whom India's pace attack hinged, Varun Aaron certainly hasn't had the career that his early hype suggested. Despite having a Grade C contract in 2015/16, he didn't play a single game for India in 2016 and that has meant that he didn't get a central contract for 2016/17 season.
In total, he has played nine Tests and ODIs each for India but the last of those was against South Africa in 2015. Although he has captained his state side, Jharkhand since then and impressed in the domestic circuit with his bowling he has struggled to get through into the Indian side.
Not only has he not made the XI but he hasn't even come close to the squad as well, owing the strong performances of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. While he may yet play for India again, as he is still only 27, it isn't surprising that he missed out on a central contract.
#3 Mohit Sharma
With his deceptive pace, variations, and ability to nail the yorker, Mohit Sharma became an integral part of India's limited-overs side, especially during the 2015 ICC World Cup. But his stock has dropped since then and although he had a grade C contract, he didn't play a single game for India in 2016.
In fact, his last game for India came in 2015 during the limited-overs series against South Africa. Since then, not only have Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar overtaken him in the bowling ranks as far as the shorter formats is concerned, but players like Jasprit Bumrah and the evergreen Ashish Nehra have taken over as well.
Although Mohit Sharma is only 28 and still has plenty of years left in his kitty, as it stands right now, with no central contract and plenty of bowlers ahead of him, his chances of playing for India again don't look especially great. So it should come as no surprise that he didn't get a contract.
#2 Harbhajan Singh
It hasn't been a great last two years for Harbhajan Singh in international cricket. The 2015/16 contracts saw him get only a grade C contract and now he doesn't even have a central contract on top of the fact that he has played just 1 T20I in the last 16 months.
The UAE game was one in which he conjured up an impressive spell that saw him finish with figures of 4-1-11-1 in the Asia Cup. But that was the only international game that he played in 2016 as his stock has continued to go down.
Although Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had gone above Harbhajan in the pecking order over the last few years, 2016 saw the off-spinner go down even further. Amit Mishra established his limited-overs prowess, while another leggie, Yuzvendra Chahal showed that he can get the job done as well while Jayant Yadav has impressed in the longest format.
All of these certainly seem to suggest that not only does Harbhajan not have a central contract but his chances of playing for India again appear bleak as well.
#1 Suresh Raina
Arguably the most surprising and perhaps unlucky omission after BCCI announced the list of players and the central contracts was Suresh Raina. The all-rounder has been an integral part of the Indian limited-overs side for more than a decade but after being given a Grade B contract (50 lakh) in 2015/16, he wasn't given a central contract this time around.
While it is true that he hasn't played an ODI in 2016, he was still part of the T20I side that took part in both the Asia Cup and the World T20. While the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra have gotten contracts, Raina hasn't.
What makes it even more puzzling is that players like Jayant Yadav and Karun Nair, who have only played a few Tests, have a central contract. Even Shardul Thakur, who is yet to play for India has a Grade C contract, while Suresh Raina, India's third-leading run-getter in T20Is doesn't have one right now, just a couple of months ahead of the Champions Trophy.
While not having a contract doesn't decrease his chances of playing in the major tournament, it certainly highlights that he has gone down in the pecking order while other players who are older than him, have gone up.