Essex have signed Gautam Gambhir for the remainder of the 2013 season, replacing Hamish Rutherford as one of the county's overseas stars.
Rutherford will return to New Zealand after competing in Essex's T20 finals day this weekend, with Gambhir expected to make his county debut in the LV= County Championship match against Nottinghamshire, which starts at Colchester on Tuesday 20 August.
Gambhir hasn't played competitive cricket since May after completing another season with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
Essex, who sit in fourth place in Division Two of the County Championship, still maintain high promotion hopes.
Paul Grayson will be hoping the opening batsman can be the difference in his side's promotion push.
Gambhir, who has played in 54 test matches for India, averages 44.18 with the bat, hitting nine centuries with a high score of 206.
Essex head coach Grayson told the club's official website: "We are delighted with the signing of Gautam Gambhir and we very much welcome him to the club.
"Gautam is a player with real pedigree, which has been showcased on the biggest stages in world cricket.
"He will no doubt bring his experience to the squad during an important stage of the season for us in the LV= County Championship and Yorkshire Bank 40 competition."
With silverware available in both the T20 championship and County Championship, Essex are also on course for the knockout stages of the YB40 tournament.
Essex lay in third place and again will hope Gambhir's experience and aggressive style of play will help them to claim their first piece of silverware since 2008.
Gambhir's attacking style has helped the 31-year-old thrive in the shorter format of the game - he boasts an average of 39.68 and has hit 11 tons in the process.
Gambhir himself was thankful for the opportunity to finally play on English shores.
He said: "I am delighted to have this chance to make my county cricket debut with Essex.
"After the IPL ended I was looking to play some competitive cricket and playing for Essex will give me that opportunity.
"I am thankful to Essex for presenting me with this option and BCCI for allowing me to participate in county cricket. I hope I can make some meaningful contributions to Essex in the ongoing season."
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