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Cricket news - Hampshire sign Ajinkya Rahane as Markram replacement

Rahane will be the first Indian to play for Hampshire

Hampshire have signed India batsman Ajinkya Rahane for the middle part of the English season, the club confirmed on Thursday (April 25). After being granted permission by the BCCI, Rahane will now play in eight County Championship fixtures throughout May, June and the beginning of July, subject to visa clearance.

"I am excited to be the first Indian to play for Hampshire, a county which has a glowing reputation," Rahane said. "I hope to score runs and win as a team and would like to thank BCCI for allowing me to play."

The 30 year-old, who scored an unbeaten hundred for Rajasthan Royals against Delhi Capitals in the IPL on Monday, will replace Hampshire's current overseas player, South African batsman Aiden Markram, who is set to join up with the Proteas squad for the World Cup at the conclusion of the current Royal London One Day Cup tournament. Markram himself was a replacement for Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne who had to pull out of a contract with Hampshire because of his call-up for the World Cup.

"We're delighted to attract a player of Ajinkya's class and with both Aiden and Dimuth selected for the World Cup, we were obviously in the market for a top-order batsman," Giles White, Hampshire's Director of Cricket, said."Ajinkya showed an interest early on and the way things have played out it's a great opportunity to get him over - we're really excited to have him with us. He's enjoyed playing at the Ageas Bowl previously and it's going to be great to have a player of his stature joining the dressing room."

Rahane's stint at Hampshire will be the first time an Indian has played for the county and it continues the recent trend of Indian players wanting to experience the county game and English conditions. Ishant Sharma played for Sussex last season and Murali Vijay did likewise for Essex while Virat Kohli agreed a deal with Surrey only to pull out with an injury. Given India have still not won a Test series in England, it seems that the BCCI have decided the more experience their players can get of English conditions, the better.

Although Rahane has not played county cricket before, he has a good record at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl for India. In four Test innings there, he has scored three half-centuries and he also has a half-century to his name on his only ODI outing in Southampton, back in 2011. Overall, however, he averages under 30 in Test cricket in England with just one hundred from ten matches, made at Lord's in 2014.

With more than 50 Tests to his name and a first-class average above 50, India's vice-captain will bring a wealth of experience and class to a strong Hampshire batting line-up that already includes James Vince, Rilee Roussouw and Sam Northeast. They have, however, made a mixed start to their County Championship campaign, beating Essex by an innings in the opening fixture but then suffering a defeat at the hands of Yorkshire by a similar margin.

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