Hanuma Vihari set for county stint with Warwickshire

Hanuma Vihari has already left for the UK and will be part of the Birmingham-based team for at least three games this season.

Hanuma Vihari

India's Hanuma Vihari plays a shot during day one of the second Test match against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on February 29, 2020.   -  AP

India's Test specialist Hanuma Vihari is all set to compete for English county side Warwickshire.

The right-handed middle-order batsman has already left for the UK and will be part of the Birmingham-based team for at least three games this season.

"Yes, Vihari will be playing in the English county side for Warwickshire this season. He would play a few games. He is in England now," said a senior BCCI official on Tuesday.

The Warwickshire county's official page hasn't made the announcement yet. 

"The contract is being chalked out. He will play a minimum of three games. We are trying to figure out if there is a chance to play a few more," the official said.

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Vihari has scored 624 runs in 12 Tests at an average of 32.84. He has hit one hundred and four half-centuries.

His last international outing was in Sydney, where his epic four-hour vigil (23 not out), with a torn hamstring alongside Ravichandran Ashwin, helped India draw the Test. 

Following intense rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, he took part in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He captained Andhra, scoring only one fifty and failing to reach even double digits in the next five games.

"With a curtailed domestic season this time and Vihari being a part of the Test side, he needs match practice.

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"All his other Test colleagues are part of IPL teams, including Cheteshwar (Pujara). Even if it's white-ball games, they will be fit and match-ready," the source said.

"However, we need to ensure that Vihari also gets game time before the England tour. It's not just one World Test Championship final, but the full-fledged five-Test series that follows. We need him ready," he added.

Over the years, the BCCI has encouraged its cricketers to play county cricket, especially before England tours.

Ishant Sharma went to Sussex and became a better red-ball bowler. Ashwin and Axar Patel have also played county cricket in recent years.

Virat Kohli had a contract with Surrey in 2018 but missed out due to injury.