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Cheteshwar Pujara heads to Yorkshire for England tour preps

The English county has signed India's top-order Test batsman for his second stint with them.

Cheteshwar Pujara heads to Yorkshire for England tour preps
File photo of Chesteshwar Pujara (Reuters)

London: Unsold in IPL players' auction, Cheteshwar Pujara will warm up for India's Test series in England by playing county cricket as Yorkshire has signed him for his second stint with the club. He first turned out for the club during 2015, a County Championship winning year.

The 29-year-old Indian will share overseas duties with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, is set to arrive in the United Kingdom just in time for the Leeds Bradford MCCU fixture on April 7. Despite a deal for the Rajkot-born right-hander being struck several weeks ago, the club's announcement has been purposely delayed until after the Indian Premier League auction.

During that time, the BCCI has scheduled a one-off Test against Afghanistan in Bengaluru, from June 14-18, and Pujara is set to depart for his home country after the Royal London 50-Over clash at Lancashire.

Yorkshire is hoping Pujara will return in time for an away trip to Hampshire, in the Specsavers County Championship, on June 20. The club also said that Pujara may stay on after India's five-match Test tour of England between August 1 and September 11.

"There is also possibility for Pujara to stay on after India's summer Test tour to play the final home fixture against Hampshire (September 18), followed by the trip to New Road to face Worcestershire (September 24)," the club said in its website.

The addition of a second overseas batsman means Yorkshire will have three of the top six Test batsmen on their staff in 2018, with Joe Root (three), Williamson (four) and Pujara (six). 

"I'm really excited to be able to have the opportunity to represent Yorkshire once again," Pujara said.

"It's always nice to be able to come over here and play some county cricket and I'm just as excited as I was last time to represent the club. I love the passion the people of Yorkshire have for the game and they made me feel very welcome (last time). I know quite a few of the players, so I'll just try to play my natural game and score plenty of runs for the club," Pujara said.

"It's an honour for me to play for the same county as Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar; and each time I've played county cricket, it has improved me as a player. That's the plan again in 2018. I just want to score as many runs as possible for Yorkshire and soak up as much as I can from the whole experience."

Pujara, who delivered a record-breaking 12th double century of his 12-year career towards the end of 2017, averages 56.68 in first-class cricket. His County Championship record stands at 816 runs with three fifties and as many hundreds. One of each came in Yorkshire colours in the early stages of the club's second successive Championship-winning year. 

"It goes without saying that Cheteshwar is a highly-driven individual and very skilled batsman. We're delighted to have him on board. He proved to be a very likable character the last time he was with us and the plan is for him to relieve some of the pressure on the top order that we struggled with at times in 2017," said Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon.

"Just as he did in 2015, Pujara will relish the challenge of performing in English conditions. He's very difficult to dislodge and will hopefully dominate the crease for us during his stay."