London (AFP) – India captain Virat Kohli will play for English County Championship side Surrey in June with an eye to adapting to English conditions ahead of leading his country on tour later in the summer.
Kohli should be available for three County Championship games against Hampshire, Somerset and Yorkshire.
The right-handed batsman could also feature in three one-day Cup matches against Kent, Middlesex and Glamorgan.
“It has long been an ambition of mine to play county cricket and I am thankful to Alec Stewart and Surrey for allowing me the opportunity to join them during their 2018 season,” said Kohli in a Surrey statement.
News of Kohli’s first domestic deal on foreign soil is the latest example of a relaxation in attitude from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
India take on England in three-match T20 and one-day series in July before a five-match Test series.
The BCCI has also allowed Cheteshwar Pujara (Yorkshire), Ishant Sharma (Sussex) and Varun Aaron (Leicestershire) to sign as overseas players in England this year.
The Surrey stint means that Kohli will miss India’s one-off Test match against Afghanistan in Bangalore which starts on June 14.
Kohli averages more than 50 in all three formats of the game for India and is ranked as the top one-day batsman in the world.
However, he averages just 13.40 in his five previous Test appearances in England. His ODI average of 32 is also significantly lower that his overall tally of 58.
“We are thrilled to have signed the biggest name in world cricket for the month of June,” said Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart.
“Playing and training alongside Virat will be a massive benefit for our players who will have the opportunity to learn so much from him.
“At a time when there is much discussion around the future of county cricket, the arrival of Virat should give our domestic game a massive boost and positive exposure around the cricketing world which in turn can benefit every county.”