Pujara replaces Khan at Headingley

Mumbai A.'s batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara, second left, and Hiken Shah, left, run between the wickets as England's Ian Bell watches the play during their second warm-up match in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Mumbai A.'s batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara, second left, and Hiken Shah, left, run between the wickets as England's Ian Bell watches the play during their second warm-up match in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
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Yorkshire have announced the signing of Indian Test star Cheteshwar Pujara, subject to a work permit, after Pakistan’s Younus Khan performed a dramatic U-turn over returning to Headingley.

Yorkshire struck a deal with Khan after receiving assurances that he would not travel with Pakistan when they tour Bangladesh next month. But Khan is now likely to be picked and Yorkshire acted swiftly to cancel his contract, and instead recruit Pujara.

“It is very disappointing, at this late stage, to pull out of the agreement with Younus,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon.

“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 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.”

An agreement has been struck with the BCCI to allow Pujara to play four-day cricket with Yorkshire until the end of May, when Australian international Aaron Finch will arrive after completing his Indian Premier League commitments.

Yorkshire hope that the 27-year-old will be free to play in Yorkshire’s opening LV= County Championship match against Worcestershire on Sunday April 12, and Moxon added: “He is a superb player; 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 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 and is a key member of India’s Test top-order, said: “I’m very excited and honoured to be signing for Yorkshire.

“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 [with Derbyshire], 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.

“I hope I can contribute to further success.”