Umesh Yadav has begun a maiden stint in county cricket in England, with Middlesex signing him for the remainder of the 2022 season in place of Shaheen Shah Afridi. The Pakistan fast bowler returned home to prepare for the national team's two-Test tour of Sri Lanka, which is already underway with a warm-up fixture in Colombo.
Umesh was initially set to play five County Championship games from early next week, but has now been drafted into the squad with immediate effect following a late visa clearance. He has been included in the XI for Middlesex' ongoing clash against Worcestershire, which began in Northwood on Monday.
Umesh will also be available for Middlesex's Royal London One-Day Cup. He isn't part of India's white-ball plans, and is free from national-team commitments over the coming months, much like fellow Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara, who is playing for Sussex this season. Both players were part of India's squad for the final Test of their five-match series against England at Edgbaston last week.
"He is a proven world-class performer and can not only make a huge difference himself for the remainder of our Championship campaign and to our prospects in the Royal London Cup but will also be a fantastic role model for our younger bowlers to work alongside," said Alan Coleman, the club's head of men's performance.
"As a bowler he offers a huge amount. He delivers the ball from wide of the crease, can move the ball both ways, regularly tops 140 kph, and possesses a vicious short ball, so will be a real handful for opposition batters in English conditions."
Umesh brings with him over a decade's experience in international cricket but has lately been a back-up seamer for India in Test cricket. He last played ODIs and T20Is in 2018 and 2019 respectively, while the most recent of his 52 Tests, which have brought him 158 wickets at an average of 30.80, came earlier this year in Cape Town.
Apart from Umesh and Pujara, it is also widely expected that allrounder Washington Sundar will feature in the Royal London One-Day Cup, having signed for Lancashire. Sundar is currently in the final stages of rehabilitation from a leg injury, and could be one of India's options for the T20 World Cup later in the year.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo