'You'll conquer once again' – Shastri backs Iyer, Kishan for strong comeback after central contract snub

Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer were the big names missing from BCCI’s annual central contract player retainership announced on Wednesday, 28 February.

Both players were a part of the annual retainer for the last year, where Iyer was in Grade B, while Kishan made it to Grade C.

Despite a series of back injuries troubling him in recent years, Iyer remained a consistently high-performing player for the limited-overs side. This was particularly evident in 2023, which marked his most successful year in ODI cricket, amassing 846 runs at an impressive average of 52.87. This included 530 runs at 66.25 in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 in India, including a stunning century in the semi-final.

Aggressive ton from Iyer highlights India's innings | CWC23

Shreyas Iyer played a brilliant attacking knock in Mumbai.

Similarly, Kishan too has been a regular in the limited-overs setup. He is among the five Indian batters to have scored a double hundred in ODI cricket. But both the players haven't been available for India selection in recent times.

While Iyer was reportedly cleared fit by the National Cricket Academy (NCA) before the selection for the second half of the ongoing Test series, he didn’t appear either for India or his Ranji side, Mumbai, in the week that followed. On the other hand, the left-handed Kishan took a break from cricket for personal reasons during the South Africa tour and was away from cricketing action for several months. He returned to playing earlier this week in the DY Patil T20 tournament.

In its statement, the BCCI stated, “Please note that Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were not considered for the annual contracts in this round of recommendations.”

Big names omitted as BCCI announces India men’s central contracts

In addition, mentioned that “The BCCI has recommended that all athletes give precedence to participating in domestic cricket during periods when they are not representing the national team.”

This was linked up to the duo’s absence from the recent round of the domestic red-ball competition, the Ranji Trophy.

This development has attracted reactions from several quarters of Indian cricket. Among them is former India head coach Ravi Shastri, who backed them to overcome this setback. Both Kishan and Iyer had made their international debut when Shastri was at the helm.

On social media, Shastri expressed that the duo's past accomplishments speak volumes, expressing confidence in their ability to "conquer once again."

“In the game of cricket, comebacks define the spirit. Chin-up, @ShreyasIyer15 and @ishankishan51! Dig deep, face challenges, and come back even stronger. Your past achievements speak volumes, and I have no doubt you'll conquer once again.”

On the other hand, some welcomed BCCI’s decision to prioritise domestic cricket.