Kuldeep was among the core group of Grade A players in the 2019-20 contracts list, while Chahal featured in Grade B. Both have now dropped down to Grade C.
Shubman Gill, Axar Patel and Mohammed Siraj, who made impressive Test debuts during the 2020-21 season when India overcame an injury crisis to beat Australia 2-1 away and England 3-1 at home, all entered the contracts list as Grade C players. Patel returns to the contracts list for the first time since 2017-18, when he was a Grade C player, while Gill and Siraj have been contracted for the first time.
India captain Virat Kohli, white-ball vice-captain Rohit Sharma and fast-bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah remain the only three players in the Grade A+ category. Apart from Pandya, the Grade A players include wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, allrounder Ravindra Jadeja, fast bowler Mohammed Shami, Test specialists R Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma, and white-ball openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.
There is no change in the pay structure for the players, with the Grade A+ players earning INR 7 crore per year, Grade A earning INR 5 crore, Grade B INR 3 crore, and Grade C INR 1 crore.
The demotions of Kuldeep and Chahal coincide with fallow periods in both players' careers. Since the end of the 2019 World Cup, Chahal averages 37.12 in ODIs and Kuldeep a worrying 58.41, with both returning economy rates north of six an over. Kuldeep has played only three T20Is since the World Cup, while Chahal has only picked up 16 wickets in 17 games while conceding 9.13 runs per over.
Kuldeep's Test-match stocks have fallen away too. Talked up by India coach Ravi Shastri as their No. 1 overseas spinner in Test cricket after the 2018-19 tour of Australia, he has only played one Test match since.