The Indian men's and women's cricket team openers Shikhar Dhawan and Smriti Mandhana have been nominated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the prestigious Arjuna Award, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhury confirmed on Wednesday. "We have sent the communication to the Government of India," Chaudhury told reporters. Dhawan is currently playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for SunRisers Hyderabad and has been a consistent performer across all three formats for India. Mandhana had helped India reach the final of the ICC Women's World Cup in England last year.
A consistent run with the bat skyrocketed Dhawan from Grade C to Grade A+ in the newly-designed BCCI pay structure for the players. Dhawan was placed in Grade C last season receiving a salary of Rs 50 lakh per annum but under the new system, the left-handed batsman will be paid Rs 7 crore per annum, an unbelievable hike of 1300 per cent.
In June last year, Dhawan was not even considered for selection in the Test team when India picked the squad for Sri Lanka. He was holidaying with his family in Hong Kong when regular opener Murali Vijay suffered an injury and Dhawan was drafted in.
The southpaw hammered 358 runs from four innings at an average of 89.5 and was named man-of-the-series. Dhawan also hit two hundreds including a career best 190 at Galle in the first Test.
He hasn't looked back since. He has smashed four centuries in 18 ODIs and amassed 975 runs since August 2017. In T20Is too, Dhawan has scored 337 runs from 9 T20Is at 42.12.
As far as Mandhana is concerned, the 21-year-old made an explosive start to the Women's World Cup when she scored 90 in the opener against England, before scoring a century against the West Indies in the second game.
The left-hander first burst onto the scene at an early age of 17, when she scored a double century for West Zone in an Under-19 cricket tournament in Vadodara in 2013.
She scored the fastest half-century in T20s against Australia, before breaking her own record in the very next game against England.
She was also one of the first two Indians, along with Harmanpreet Kaur, to play in Australia's Big Bash League.
In 2017, Harmanpreet Kaur and Cheteshwar Pujara were conferred by the award that is given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, to recognize outstanding achievement in sports.
(With IANS inputs)