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Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer have only themselves to blame; BCCI cracks the whip, opts for discipline over status

Explaining why Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer were dropped from BCCI’s list of central contracts.

One holds the record for scoring the fastest double century in the history of ODIs, the other is India’s third-highest scorer at the 2023 World Cup. And yet, just like that, both released… at the drop of a dime. Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer may have had their reasons behind not adhering to BCCI’s norms but the board was having none of it. Hence, two players who were an integral part of Indian cricket’s scheme of things until not too long ago, now find themselves no longer centrally contracted and a long way away from making it back.

India’s Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan(AP)

The BCCI has walked the talk and cracked the whip on players – no matter who they are – for repeatedly ignoring its guidelines. About a couple of weeks ago, when BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote a letter to all centrally-contracted players to not prioritise IPL over red-ball cricket – Ranji and Tests both – it was believed that the move would bring some positivity out of Iyer and Kishan – if not change their course of action entirely – but when it didn’t, the board was left with no other option other than pulling the plug.

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The timeline of events that led to Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer axing from central contracts

Let’s go back and recall the series of events, starting with Ishan. In December, Ishan strangely requested to be released from India’s squad in South Africa and the BCCI agreed. It was believed that the reason behind withdrawing was that he was mentally cooked and wanted a break. In between, a couple of reports emerged that stated A) Ishan was not happy with not getting picked frequently in the Playing XI and B) He was seen partying in Dubai, which did not go down well with the BCCI. But while nothing about these two rumoured events has been confirmed, they are believed to have played a part.

When Rahul Dravid was enquired about the same, at first, he respected Ishan’s decision but also pointed out that for any player to get back to playing for India, he will have to go through the grind of domestic cricket, all but reaffirming the BCCI’s stance, but when Ishan didn’t comply even then, it seemed to have rubbed off the board in all the wrong ways possible. The BCCI didn’t have a problem with Ishan taking a break, but that he, recovering from India’s heartbreaking loss at the World Cup, was spotted training with his newly-appointed captain Hardik Pandya ahead of the IPL and did not make himself available for Jharkhand’s Ranji Trophy quarters acted as the final nail in the coffin.

As for Shreyas Iyer, his case is surrounded by a lot more mystery. Until a couple of weeks ago, the only problem with Iyer was his form, as he failed to make an impression in the first two Tests against England. But as we inched towards the remaining three, the picture kept becoming clearer. Despite reports that Iyer was nursing a back spasm, he was dropped on the basis of form more than anything else.

Like Ishan, Iyer was expected to turn up for Mumbai at the Ranji Trophy, but when he complained of a back injury, while the NCA physio said there was no such thing, it put Iyer on thin ice. Iyer then made himself available for Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy semifinal, but it was too late. In between, Iyer was also spotted at a KKR training camp, which apparently upset the selectors and they took the call to unceremoniously drop him from the contract.

India captain Rohit Sharma briefly touched upon this subject in the press conference following India’s series-clinching win over England in the 4th Test, and while he did not take names, the fact that he used words such as “hunger” and that “players who don’t have bhookh, it becomes evident”, threw the spotlight back on Ishan and Iyer.

Until two months ago, both had a big future ahead of themselves with the Indian team and although it would be unfair to say that they don’t anymore, bouncing back from here could take some time. Ishan finally played his first competitive game after three months yesterday at the DY Patil tournament and Shreyas is to feature in the Ranji semifinal. But with the IPL starting in less than a month, and no domestic cricket ahead, both Ishan and Shreyas are in danger of missing the T20 World Cup starting June 1.

Never say never, but as of now, Ishan and Shreyas are back at the end of the line.


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