India's Ajinkya Rahane set for Hampshire stint

Ajinkya Rahane latches onto a cut Getty Images

After not being considered for the World Cup, India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is likely to play first-class cricket for English county Hampshire. It is understood that Rahane, who is a Grade A contracted player, sought permission from the BCCI this week to play for Hampshire.

ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI is open and favourable to Indian players featuring in county cricket and will give Rahane the required no-objection certificate. Rahane is believed to have not yet signed the contract with Hampshire as he is waiting for the nod from the BCCI.

Hampshire have been casting around for replacement overseas players since their original signing, Dimuth Karunaratne, became a surprise candidate to lead Sri Lanka at the World Cup. South Africa batsman Aiden Markram is currently with the club but he will also depart in May after being selected in South Africa's squad for the tournament.

This would be the first time Rahane has played in county cricket, following the footsteps of contemporaries like Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin and Ishant Sharma.

Despite being one of the most dependable batsmen for India, in the recent past Rahane has endured a dry phase. Since the 2017 tour of Sri Lanka, Rahane has not scored a Test century. He endured a challenging Test series in England last year, scoring just two fifties in five matches and totaling 257 runs at an average of 25.70.

Hampshire, who are captained by England batsman James Vince, began their County Championship campaign with an innings victory over Essex, before losing by an innings themselves against Yorkshire last week. They are also the reigning champions in the 50-over Royal London Cup.