INDIA batsman Cheteshwar Pujara today answered Yorkshire’s SOS after Pakistani Younus Khan dramatically pulled out of his contract to become the club’s overseas player for the start of the season.
Younus has performed an 11th-hour U-turn to make himself available for Pakistan’s tour to Bangladesh that starts later this month.
Yorkshire are angry because they say they had earlier obtained an agreement from the player and his country that he would not be selected for the trip, which clashes with the start of the Championship campaign.
The club have now been forced to turn to Pujara, whom they hope will debut in the opening Championship game against Worcestershire on April 12 and stay at Headingley until the end of May - subject to a work permit being granted.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, explained: “It is very disappointing, at this late stage, to pull out of the agreement with Younus.
“When the deal was agreed initially, it was on the understanding that Younus would not tour Bangladesh with Pakistan.
“Younus made it clear to us on Sunday that he would find it difficult to turn that down should he be selected.
“At this late stage, that is no good to us. We had to make a decision and as result we have decided to cancel his contract.”
To see Pujara’s stats go HERE
Yorkshire have moved quickly to secure the services of Pujara, the 27-year-old who is a feature of India’s Test side.
The right-hander had a spell with Derbyshire last summer and is keen to develop his game with the county champions.
“We have moved quickly to bring in Pujara and he is a superb player,” said Moxon.
“He is an outstanding young Test cricketer who is hungry to perform in the English game.
“In the brief conversations I have had with him, he is very much looking forward to be joining Yorkshire and being part of our plans.
“He is a classy right-hander that likes to dominate the crease and he will be a big asset for us during the early part of the new campaign.
“He speaks fondly of wanting to play for Yorkshire and we are looking forward to welcoming him to Headingley and, hopefully, he can make an impression in the first month of the season with us”.
Pujara, who averages over 57 in first-class cricket with a top-score of 352, has been recruited to play four-day cricket.
He will cover the period until Australia batsman Aaron Finch arrives after his Indian Premier League commitments, with Finch signed to play in all competitions.
“I’m very excited and honoured to be signing for Yorkshire,” said Pujara.
“The club’s history is fantastic and being the current champions is a testament to the quality of the club and staff.
“I was looking to return to the UK after my previous experience of county cricket, which I greatly enjoyed, and when Yorkshire made the offer I didn’t think twice.
“To wear the same white rose Sachin Tendulkar did is going to be a great feeling for me, and I hope I can contribute to further success.”