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Ego Or What, BCCI? Does Hardik Pandya Really Deserve Central Contract If Not Shreyas & Kishan?

Hardik in BCCI contracts while Shreyas and Kishan were ignored (X.com)Hardik in BCCI contracts while Shreyas and Kishan were ignored (X.com)

It is impossible to make everyone happy when there are too many people competing for too few places. As the Indian cricket team operates in the same way, any move out of the box made by the BCCI becomes the talk of the town.

Similarly, on Wednesday, the BCCI's recent 'bold' call left many of the die-hard Indian supporters speechless. While there have been quite a few names, such as Yashasvi Jaiswal and Dhruv Jurel among others, who have risen through the ranks to get a place among the BCCI central contracts’ list, Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan have not been listed in any category.

The BCCI would have made a massive statement, given that they have been advocating red-ball cricket for quite some time, and Shreyas and Ishan have deliberately politicized the IPL over Test cricket, especially the latter. However, ‘injury-prone’ Hardik Pandya, who had so many opportunities to become such a talismanic figure in Indian cricket, has been rewarded with a place. The argument starts there.

Let’s talk about Kishan first. Since the Australia T20I series after the World Cup 2023, the southpaw has not played a single international format across formats, citing mental fatigue initially, and has been heavily criticised for his intentional absence from the Ranji Trophy 2024. As a matter of fact, his swashbuckling ODI double hundred, which he achieved as only the fourth Indian, has almost been forgotten.

You can’t rely on backstory rumours. Although we still don't know what conversation Ishan had with the BCCI regarding his availability, we, OneCricket, can confirm that he never complains about being benched for the national team.

Now come to Shreyas. Having a phenomenal record in ODIs, he did not rush to be fit for IPL 2023 and prioritised international duties instead. His cunning plan paid off, as he amassed 530 runs at an astounding average of over 66 during the World Cup.

How often do you see an Indian No. 4 perform as well as this at the game's most prestigious event?

That being said, Shreyas' life has not been the same lately. He got chances in red-ball cricket in South Africa and in the first two Tests against England at home. However, he could not perform up to the high expectations anywhere, and because of his reckless shots and unconventional batting stance, which hindered his ability to make defensive shots, he was dropped for the rest of the series.

Shreyas’ ego might have hurt, and hence, he decided not to play for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy 2024, citing back pain concerns. Nonetheless, it is possible that the BCCI and the think tank headed by Rahul Dravid took the decision personally and decided he should no longer be a part of the central contract.

Did any of these decisions need to be made, given that both of them had a significant impact on white-ball cricket? Even if that were the case, why is Hardik receiving preferential treatment by the BCCI? Just because he told the BCCI that his body would not allow him to play red-ball cricket, or because he is expected to captain India in T20Is going forward?

The bias is nothing new in cricket. It happens from time to time, and sparks a lot of debate. However, if Shreyas and Ishan are getting 'punishments' just because they stopped focusing on red-ball cricket, why is Hardik getting the special treatment despite missing out on the longest format of the game for a while? He has not been playing a Ranji Trophy anyway, having last played a match in there for Baroda way back in 2018.

In cricket, choosing players primarily on the basis of their skill set is nothing new. Australia and England have adopted the model for some time, and they have been incredibly successful due to that. However, India are yet to go in the same direction, and to make matters worse, are taking controversial decisions against such prolific figures.

Sometimes, harsh calls should be made, but at the same time, the parameters ought to be the same for each individual if you take. Nevertheless, it does not seem to be in the case of BCCI, and as a result, things are now getting heated in the discussion.