Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been handed a Grade A contract by the BCCI for the 2014-15 season, a promotion from the Grade B contract he had last season. He joins MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and R Ashwin in the top level, after being one of the successes for India on the tour to England this summer, where he claimed 19 wickets from seven Test innings at 26.63.
Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane have been promoted from Grade C to Grade B, while Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik and Jaydev Unadkat have been dropped from the contracts list.
There are several players who did not have contracts last year but have been included in Grade C this time, including Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Pankaj Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel, Robin Uthappa, Manoj Tiwary, Karn Sharma, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep Yadav and KL Rahul.
Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma have been retained in Grade B, while Amit Mishra, Wriddhiman Saha, Vinay Kumar and Mohit Sharma remain in Grade C.
The BCCI said in a release that players who have not received contracts but play for India in any of the three formats this season will be given Grade C contracts once they debut.
The only players in India's 30-man probables list for the 2015 World Cup who had not made it to the contracts list are batsmen Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav, and fast bowler Ashok Dinda.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha, who was called up to the India Test team as injury cover for Saha and Dhoni during the series in England earlier this year as well as the ongoing series in Australia, has not been given a contract.
The BCCI did not announce how much the players will be paid under each grade, since their fees are decided at the AGM. The AGM is usually held before September 30 every year, but has not been held for 2014-15 as the BCCI is embroiled in a legal tussle following the 2013 IPL corruption scandal. Last season, a Grade A contract came with an annual retainer of Rs 1 crore for Grade A players (US$ 158,000 approx), Rs 50 lakh for Grade B players (US$ 79,000 approx), and Rs 25 lakh for Grade C players (US$ 39,000 approx).