The Board of Control for cricket in India (BCCI) has suggested India's veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and women’s Test and ODI skipper Mithali Raj’s names for the highest sporting honour of India- the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. The board has also recommended Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan’s names for the Arjuna award. Notably, Dhawan had also been named for the Arjuna award last year. However, the southpaw, who will lead the Indian team on Sri Lanka tour, is one of the top contenders for the prestigious award this year.
Notably, the award, which was started in 1991/92, has been won by only four cricketers from the 45 recipients so far. Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar was the first cricketer to bag the honour in 1997/98. It took a decade for none other than former Indian captain MS Dhoni to receive the honour in 2007/08. Indian skipper Virat Kohli was felicitated with the honour next in 2018, while Rohit Sharma is the most recent cricketer to be awarded the Khel Ratna in 2020.
Both Ashwin and Mithali are already Arjun awardees. The right-arm off-break bowler has 413 dismissals to his name in the Test cricket besides 150 and 52 scalps in ODIs and T20Is. Meanwhile, Mithali who completed 22 years in international cricket last week is the top run scorer in ODIs with more than 7000 runs.
No woman cricketer nominated for Arjuna
However, no woman cricketer has been named for Arjuna award by the board. “No women cricketer has been nominated for Arjuna. Mithali’s name has been recommended for Khel Ratna,” a BCCI official said as quoted by PTI.
Apart from Rohit in 2020, table tennis player Manika Batra, hockey star Rani Rampal, wrestler Vinesh Phogat and paralympic high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu were the other five sportspersons who received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.