The BCCI announced the annual contracts for the 2016-17 season earlier in March. The notable takeaways include the fact that the annual retainer on all three categories was doubled and that the match fees for all three formats saw an increase.
For the players, Ravindra Jadeja saw a massive promotion to the Grade A category, where he now sits along with Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin amongst others. Whereas, the likes of Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh were left without contracts.
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This year saw the BCCI recognizing Test specialists and awarding them a better contract than specialists of the other formats. The previous year also saw a number of players making their debuts for team India, and thus there are 9 players who earned their first ever BCCI contract.
With the exception of Shardul Thakur, all these players have played for India once at the least.
Shardul Thakur – Grade C
25-year-old Shardul Thakur is an aggressive seamer who opens the bowling for his Ranji side Mumbai along with Dhawal Kulkarni. He has been on the fringes of the Indian side ever since the 2014-15 Ranji season. The bowler is the only uncapped player on the list, speaking volumes of his promise.
He was in the Indian squad for the tours of Zimbabwe and West Indies but never made his debut for the side. In 49 first-class games for Mumbai, he has picked up 169 wickets at an average of just over 28 while conceding just over 3 runs an over.
You might see him eased into the Indian side with a couple of T20Is first.
Jasprit Bumrah – Grade B
A number of cricketers on this list deserve the contract, but arguably none more so than 23-year-old Jasprit Bumrah. The seamer who represents Gujarat in the domestic circuit has played 11 ODIs and 24 T20Is for the country despite only making his debut in 2016.
He made headlines during his time with the Mumbai Indians, where he benefitted from playing along with Lasith Malinga. What stands out about Bumrah is his temperament, his ability to hit the blockhole and the knack to pick up wickets at crucial intervals.
He is an established star in the limited-overs formats with 22 ODI and 33 T20I wickets to his name. Bumrah is the only player to have been awarded a Grade B contract, while others have all been given Grade C contracts.
Karun Nair – Grade C
There is no surprise about this one whatsoever. There have been a section of fans who have been eagerly awaiting the right-handed batsman’s rise and they were awarded for their patience with his record-breaking 303* in Chennai.
2016 was a spectacular year for Karun as he made his ODI debut as well against Zimbabwe. His first-class record is exceptional where he has amassed over 3000 runs at an average of 51.
It is all about one more knock for Karun. He has been given chances but he has not played another great innings after his triple-century.
Manish Pandey – Grade C
Along with Karun Nair, Manish Pandey is another Karnataka batsman who was awarded his first contract this time around. Manish has been on the fringes for slightly longer than Karun, but his breakthrough came in the limited-overs formats.
The 27-year-old made his debut in mid-2015 and has been in and out of the team ever since. Indian fans will fondly remember his sensational debut ODI century in Sydney which took team India to a famous victory.
His ODI average is above 40 nowadays and the next step in his career is to establish himself as a regular in the Indian side.
Hardik Pandya – Grade C
Young Hardik Pandya is another who has shown signs of having the right temperament to become a star at the absolute highest level of the game. At just 23, he appears to be India’s solution to finding a seam bowling all-rounder.
He had been really tested in the last couple of ODIs against England. He nearly pulled off a remarkable win for India in Kolkata where his half-century failed to get India over the line.
Hardik has represented India in 7 ODIs and 19 T20Is already and will be a part of the team for years to come.
Mandeep Singh – Grade C
Apart from Shardul Thakur, Indian cricket team fans would have seen the least of Mandeep Singh. The 25-year-old is an attacking middle-order batsman who represents Punjab in the domestic circuit.
He was supposed to be a star for RCB in the 2016 season but an injury opened the door for KL Rahul. However, the Indian team and Kohli have shown faith in him by awarding him a contract.
He seems to be a T20I specalist and has played 3 matches for the Indian team so far.
Rishabh Pant – Grade C
19-year-old Rishabh Pant made headlines during this year’s Ranji Trophy for his heroics with the Delhi side. He’s a wicket-keeper batsman who loves to play his natural game. His first-class record is frightening.
He has an average of 68.81 and a strike-rate of 101.10. He will represent Delhi Daredevils in the IPL this year and fans will be looking forward to getting a glimpse of the youngster weave his magic.
He made his debut for team India against England in a T20I in Bangalore in 2016.
Jayant Yadav – Grade C
27-year-old Jayant Yadav was a bit of a late bloomer but he had an amazing impact when he made his debut for team India in Test cricket against New Zealand in 2016. In just 4 Test matches, he took 11 wickets while scoring a 50 and a 100 as well.
His first-class record for Haryana is great as well where he has managed nearly 2000 runs while picking up 128 wickets. His temperament was praised by Virat Kohli and his ability to contribute with both the bat and the ball set him apart.
Yuzvendra Chahal – Grade C
The leggie from Haryana has for long been the darling of the Bangalore crowd at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium but after he picked up 6 wickets for 25 runs at the same venue, he came the darling of the Indian public.
His 6/25 are the best figures by an Indian in T20I history and he seems like a bowler who can have a great impact in the limited-overs formats of the game.