India news August 19, 2014

Pujara granted permission to play in County Championship

Cheteshwar Pujara, who was among the India batsmen who failed in the five-Test series against England, has sought permission to play in the remainder of the English County Championship this season and will be allowed to do so by the BCCI. Leicestershire have begun negotiations to sign him for the final month of the season, though other counties could also show an interest now they are aware of his availability.

"Pujara is not part of the ODI or T20 team now and is free to play. He sought my permission to play in county cricket and I have asked him to send me the details. I have decided to allow him to play," BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told PTI from Vadodara.

Leicestershire, who have previously signed Anil Kumble and Virender Sehwag as overseas players, currently lie bottom of Division Two with four games remaining and have not won in the Championship since 2012. "We have been in contact with Pujara," Paul Heywood, the Leicestershire chairman, told ESPNcricinfo.

Pujara, considered a Test specialist, and Virat Kohli were expected to be the bulwarks of the young India batting line-up, but failed to live up to their reputations, in conditions conducive to swing bowling. The team suffered three massive defeats - two of them by an innings - and squandered the series after taking a 1-0 lead at Lord's, which hosted the second Test. Pujara tallied 222 in 10 innings, with a high score of 55, averaging 22.20 in the series.

Though Pujara would be unable to greatly aid Leicestershire's ambitions this season, the club hope the potential signing demonstrates their ambitions and would increase their relevance to the local Asian community. Leicestershire recently announced the departure of their CEO, Mike Siddall, with Wasim Khan believed to be favourite to be appointed in his place. Wasim was the first British-born Muslim of Pakistan origin to play county cricket and is seen as a good candidate to help attract more supporters from the inner-city and Asian communities.

Most other possible suitors - the likes of Hampshire, Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Somerset and Nottinghamshire - have confirmed they are not pursuing Pujara.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo