English county side Leicestershire has agreed on a deal with former India captain Ajinkya Rahane for the 2023 season, according to a report in the English media on Tuesday.
Besides playing for Leicestershire Cricket Club in the County Championship, Rahane is likely to play in white-ball cricket for the Royal London Cup too depending on his Indian Premier League (IPL) commitments, the Telegraph newspaper claimed in an exclusive report.
Leicestershire were winless this year in the County Championship, finishing bottom of Division Two, 37 points adrift of eighth-placed Sussex, the Telegraph said in the report.
Rahane has not been picked in the Indian team since India's Test tour of South Africa in 2020-21 due to indifferent form. Though he has done well in the Ranji Trophy season, Rahane has not been selected for the Indian team.
However, the 34-year-old Rahane will be hoping that the County stint with Leicestershire CCC will revive his Test career just like it did for Cheteshwar Pujara, his former partner in the Indian Test team's middle-order.
It is also an ambitious deal for Leicestershire as they have been struggling in the County Championship.
"The signing of Rahane, who has previously played briefly for Hampshire, serves a dual purpose for Leicestershire. He should be a solid contributor of runs and provide strong leadership to an experienced squad, but will also strengthen links with the area's large Indian population," the report said.
Several Indian players have appeared for County sides in the last season and it appears the trend will continue in the 2023 season too as on Monday, Sussex, another struggling County, announced that Pujara will return for another spell at Hove after a superb performance in 2022.
Besides Pujara, Indian players Mohammed Siraj, Krunal Pandya, and Jayant Yadav (Warwickshire), Shubman Gill (Glamorgan), Washington Sundar (Lancashire), Umesh Yadav (Middlesex) and Navdeep Saini (Kent) played in the various levels of County cricket last season.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India are open to allowing its players to compete in four-day competitions outside India, but not T20, in order to preserve the primacy of the IPL, the world's biggest short-form competition, the Telegraph said in its report.
The County stints have helped the Indian players that are not involved with IPL and thus are kept busy.