Indian middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari, who went unsold in the 2021 Indian Premier League auction, is all set to represent Warwickshire in the forthcoming County season, with an official announcement imminent. Vihari is expected to play at least three games for the County this season.
One man’s misfortunes have turned into an opportunity for another as visa complications for South Africa’s Pieter Malan have all but ensured that Hanuma Vihari will be representing Warwickshire in the forthcoming County season, starting April 8. Malan, who made his Test debut in 2020, was Warwickshire’s original overseas signing, but the opener running into difficulties obtaining a visa has seen them let go of Malan and instead strike a deal with India’s Hanuma Vihari.
Vihari recently went unsold in the 2021 IPL auction and missed the home Tests versus England due to a hamstring injury he sustained in the historic Sydney Test, but the right-handed batsman is expected to feature in at least three games for Warwickshire this season. The news was confirmed by a source in the BCCI, who told PTI that the official finalization of the deal is imminent.
"Yes, Vihari will be playing for Warwickshire this season," Press Trust of India quoted an unnamed BCCI official as saying.
"He would play a few games. He is already in England now. He will play a minimum of three games. We are trying to figure out if there is a chance to play a few more. With a curtailed domestic season this time [in India] and Vihari being a part of the Test side, he needs match practice.
"All his other Test colleagues are part of the IPL teams. Even if it's white ball games, they will be fit and match-ready. But we need to ensure that Vihari also gets game time before the England tour. It's not just one World Test Championship final but it's followed by a full-fledged five-Test series. We need him ready."
ESPN Cricinfo, meanwhile, contrary to the word of the BCCI source, reported that Vihari is not currently in England, but revealed that the whole process - of him obtaining a visa and being available to play - could take as less as six days. Warwickshire will kick-start their 2021 campaign versus Derbyshire on April 8, and will play their second and third games from April 15 and April 22 respectively. There could be an outside chance of Vihari featuring in one of the final two fixtures, should he stumble upon no roadblocks.