Cricket: Yorkshire confirm return of Indian Test star Cheteshwar Pujara
Yorkshire have confirmed that Indian Test star Cheteshwar Pujara will return to Headingley for the new Championship season.
The 29-year-old, who will share overseas duties with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, is set to arrive in the UK 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 Board of Control for Cricket in India have scheduled a one-off Test against Afghanistan in Bengaluru, from June 14-18, with Pujara set to depart for his home country after the Royal London 50-Over clash at Lancashire, but more crucially returning in time for the away trip to Hampshire, in the Specsavers County Championship, on June 20.
There is also potential for Pujara to stay on after the India's summer Test tour to play the final home fixture against Hampshire (Sep 18) followed by the trip to New Road to face Worcestershire (Sep 24).
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,” he 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.
“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.
“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,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon. “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.
“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.”