Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh has been retained in Grade A of the players' contract list issued by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), along with Virat Kohli, while off-spinner R Ashwin has joined the top grade that also features the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwagm Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina.
Yuvraj, who was a Grade A player in 2011-12, was out of action for a year as he was battling a rare germ-cell cancer. He made his comeback last month. Despite his absence from international cricket, the southpaw has retained his Grade A contract.
The players in Grade A are paid Rs 1 crore each annually, while players in Grade B and C are earn Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively.
Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, however, has been demoted to Grade B. Ishant Sharma has also been placed in Grade B, while Praveen Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja lost their Grade B contracts for Grade C contracts. Harbhajan and Ishant have spent the better part of this year out of the team struggling for form in whatever chances they have been handed.
The 26-year-old Ashwin, on the other hand, has played eight Tests since making his debut in November last year, grabbing 49 wickets. In the recent home series against New Zealand, he had taken 18 wickets in two Tests.
In the ODIs, he has scalped 56 wickets in 40 matches. The Chennai-bowler has 12 wickets from his 15 Twenty20 International appearances.
The elite Grade A features nine players this year, three down from the last season, according to a press release issued by the BCCI.
In Grade B, the BCCI has offered contracts to eight players, three more than last season with batsman Rohit Sharma being the only one to have retained his contract.
Pathan brothers - Irfan and Yusuf, who had failed to gain contracts last year, have been given Grade B and Grade C contracts respectively for the year 2012-13. Young players such as Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Umesh Yadav have been elevated from Grade C.
Laxmipathy Balaji has also landed a Grade C contract while Kerala pacer S Sreesanth is out of the list.Â Ravindra Jadeja has replaced off-colour Sreesanth.Â In all, the BCCI has offered contracts to 37 players, which is the same as last year.
Grade A: Sachin Tendulkar, M S Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin.
Grade B: Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav.
Grade C: Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, 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.
(With PTI inputs)