Offspinner Harbhajan Singh and seamer Ishant Sharma have been demoted from Grade A to B in the BCCI's list of annually contracted players, while offspinner R Ashwin, who has established himself as the leading spinner for India across all three formats, has been promoted from Grade B to A.
This means that the duo of Harbhajan and Ishant will draw a fixed income of Rs 50 lakh (approx $93,000) each from October 2012 to September 2013, instead of the Rs 1 crore (approx $186,000) that players with the top grade of contracts will get. Both bowlers seem to have been penalised for their lacklustre performance in the first half of the contract cycle.
With the BCCI's central contracts committee - consisting of president N Srinivasan, secretary Sanjay Jagdale and Sandeep Patil, the chairman of the all-India selection panel - having shrunk Grade A from 12 players to nine, Ashwin has been the biggest beneficiary, replacing Harbhajan as the only spinner in the top grade. There have been no replacements for Ishant, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the top category, with the latter duo having retired from international cricket during the course of the year.
The committee has also promoted Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane from Grade C, which fetches Rs 25 lakh (around $46,500) annually, to B. Both Rahane and Pujara have been billed as leading contenders to fill spots over the long-term in the Test line-up. Umesh Yadav, who has impressed with the ball, and allrounder Irfan Pathan, who is back in national contention after a stint on the sidelines, have been elevated from Grade C to B.
Besides Harbhajan and Ishant, others who have been demoted include Praveen Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja, both of whom have been moved from Grade B to C.
Bowlers S Sreesanth and Jaydev Unadkat are omitted from last year's list of 37 players (the same number as this year). Seamer L Balaji and allrounder Yusuf Pathan return to the list, with Grade C contracts, while fast bowler Ashok Dinda is on the list for the first time.
Grade A: Rs 1 crore each (approx $186,000) Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin
Grade B: Rs 50 lakh each (approx $93,000) Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav
Grade C: Rs 25 lakh each (around $46,500) Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, Abhimanyu Mithun, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha, Parthiv Patel, Manoj Tiwary, S Badrinath, Piyush Chawla, Dinesh Karthik, Rahul Sharma, Varun Aaron, Abhinav Mukund, Ashok Dinda, Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar, L Balaji