AGENCIES
Mumbai, 14 November
In an indication that they may no longer be important in Indian cricket’s future-oriented scheme of things, the senior trio of opener Virender Sehwag, paceman Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh were today dropped from the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s list of contracted players for 2013-4.
On the list, pruned to 25 players from the previous year’s 37, only five are in Grade A, where players get Rs 1 crore annually.
The five include skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, batsmen Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Also in the category is Sachin Tendulkar, retained even though he is to  retire at the end of his 200th Test, which is currently being played in Mumbai against the West Indies.
All these players were on the list last year as well.
It could be the beginning of the end for Sehwag, who has not played a Test since March this year, and Khan, out for almost a year for fitness-related problems.
Opener Gautam Gambhir, dropped from the team because of his poor form, and all-rounder Yuvraj Singh were demoted to Grade B, which offers Rs 50 lakh a year.
Batsmen Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar were rewarded for their good performances in the season gone by as they were promoted to Grade B from Grade C. Paceman Ishant Sharma was retained in Group B despite a string of ordinary performances which led to his recent ouster from the One-Day International team recently. Harbhajan, who is trying to make a comeback with good performances in the Ranji Trophy season, and injury-ravaged new-ball bowler Irfan Pathan are the only others from Group B who have been dropped.
Grade C has been reduced from 20 players to only nine this year. “The players who do not figure in these lists will be placed in Grade C if they represent India in Tests/ODIs/Twenty20 Internationals during the season,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said in a statement. Rising paceman Mohammed Shami (in photo left) is the new entrant here. Others on the list include batsman-cum-wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane and paceman Vinay Kumar. All-rounder Yusuf Pathan and spinner Piyush Chawla were among the notable absentees.