Cheteshwar Pujara’s stellar performance in the ongoing Test series against Australia could get him an upgrade to the top-most A plus bracket in the central contracts as the BCCI is deliberating a relaxation of norms for the dependable No. 3.
Pujara has so far scored 521 runs in seven innings with three hundreds at an impressive average of 74.42. His performance is one of the primary reasons that India are on course for their maiden series win in Australia and the BCCI mandarins are mulling ways to reward his stupendous show.
It is learnt that Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai, in all likelihood, will bring up the idea with chairman of selectors MSK Prasad along with the team management (captain Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri).
After the revised pay structure approved in 2018, A plus category players get ₹7 crore while A category, to which Pujara currently belongs, comes with a pay cheque of ₹5 crore. The B and C category players get ₹3 and ₹1 respectively.
The A Plus category comprises skipper Kohli, limited overs deputy Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan
“Pujara’s brilliant performance deserves recognition. The CoA chief will discuss with the team management and the chief selector to check if the rule for all-format specialists in the top bracket can be relaxed,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
“Pujara’s elevation to the top bracket could well be a message for youngsters that performance in Test cricket will be given top priority,” the official said.
A one-format specialist, Pujara has been repeatedly ignored by IPL franchises for the last four-five years during the auction.
With 18 Test hundreds (second to skipper Kohli’s 25), there has been a lot of debate on whether Pujara’s contribution has been given the recognition it deserved. While there is a school of thought that the A Plus category should be reserved for all-format performers, opener Dhawan is no longer a certainty in the longest format in the coming days with the emergence of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal along with KL Rahul in the mix.
The central contract could see another course correction with Rishabh-Pant, now the first choice wicketkeeper in Tests, being reinstated in the system after being dropped for the current financial year.