Teenage batting sensation Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol and Priya Punia have all earned themselves a Grade C contract as BCCI expanded the list of centrally contracted Senior Women cricketers from 20 last year to 22 for the October 2019-September 2020 period.
Verma, who turns 16 later this month, first shot to limelight with a stroke-filled 34 for Velocity against Trailblazers at the Women's T20 Challenge in Jaipur last May and was duly fast-tracked to the national T20I side. The belligerent opener made her debut in the home series against South Africa and has featured in India's all nine completed T20Is since then, scoring two fifties among her 222 runs that have come at a strike rate of 142.30.
Chandigarh-born Himachal batter Deol made her ODI as well as T20I debut in the home series against England in February-March last year. Despite missing India's A tour of Australia and the Sr. Women's T20 Challenger Trophy due to a toe injury, she was retained in the squad for the upcoming tri-series in Australia, also featuring England, and the Women's T20 World Cup.
Delhi batter Puniya, who hasn't featured in India's T20I setup for either the South Africa home series or on the West Indies tour, has still been backed with a C category contract. She's played eight limited-overs games for India since her debut on the New Zealand tour in February 2019.
India's ODI skipper Mithali Raj, who announced her retirement from the shortest format in September last year, now joins veteran pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami in Grade B which has seen two new entrants. All-formats wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia has earned a promotion from Grade C last year, while spin-allrounder Radha Yadav, who rose quickly to world No. 2 in T20I bowlers' rankings, has also been handed the same upgrade.
Mona Meshram, who last played for India in the ODI series against England since the 2018 Asia Cup, is the only Grade C player to be left out of last year's annual retainer list.