Senior opener Shikhar Dhawan, in all likelihood, has been dropped from the topmost category of the latest Central Contracts list for India players, while young Rishabh Pant was rewarded with an entry into the A category. The BCCI has not released the list officially as three CoA members have not yet signed.

The Elite list is set to comprise only three players —skipper Virat Kohli, his limited-overs deputy Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. Dhawan, who is no longer a part of the Test set-up and had a poor last three months in limited overs format, has been reportedly demoted from A plus to A category.

The A-plus category players get a yearly retainer fee of Rs 7 crore, while A category players get richer by Rs 5 crore.

It has been learnt that along with Dhawan, seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has also fallen off the radar as an all format player, is also not in the elite list.

Pant, the young wicketkeeper-batsman, has been rewarded for his good show in Test cricket and has jumped directly into A group after being ignored last year.

Pant has been rewarded for his hundreds in England and Australia and he is ready to take on the mantle from Mahendra Singh Dhoni once he retires from limited overs.

Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul continue to remain in B category.

Cheteshwar Pujara despite his stupendous show in Australia remained in A category since he is only one format player.

Earlier, former India captain Sourav Ganguly backed veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni to continue after the upcoming ODI World Cup, saying if someone has talent “age is not a factor”. With the World Cup round the corner, people have been predicting the show-piece event to be Dhoni’s last international outing but Ganguly thinks otherwise.

“Dhoni can continue after the World Cup. If India wins the Cup and Dhoni performs consistently then why should he retire. Age is never a factor if talent is there,” Ganguly was quoted by PTI.