Zaheer Khan is to take over as one of Worcestershire's two overseas signings for 2006 following the expected withdrawal of No 1 target Nathan Bracken.
The county yesterday confirmed that Bracken would not, after all, be taking up his duties alongside fellow Australian Phil Jaques this summer.
Following a very successful domestic season, which has earned him regular selection for his country over the last six months, Bracken told New Road officials that he would not be available to play for most of the English season as previously intended.
Worcestershire have instead decided to release him from his contract and have turned to Zaheer, another left-arm fast bowler.
The 27-year-old, who has taken 121 wickets in 42 Test matches, as well as 155 in 107 one-day internationals, said: "To have the opportunity to play for Worcester-shire is a privilege.
"I very much look forward to the season ahead and to re-establishing myself on the international scene whilst helping the county to win as many matches as possible."
Zaheer announced himself to the cricketing world during India's tour to the West Indies in 2002, when he was his country's top wicket-taker. Although he was part of the Indian team that lost the 2003 World Cup final, he had a nightmare in that match in Johannesburg.
His seven overs cost 67 runs as part of an attack taken to the cleaners by Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn.
Zaheer made a brief appearance in English cricket when he played a couple of matches for Surrey as an unpaid amateur in 2004 after he had pulled out of a contract with Warwickshire just prior to the 2003 season. But he is looking forward to this return after an encouraging winter in Indian domestic cricket. Three times before Christmas he took six wickets in an innings, two of them for West Zone in the Duleep Trophy, in which he took 23 wickets in three matches.
But a hamstring injury ruled him out of contention for the recent series with England, and he is not currently needed by Indian coach Greg Chappell. Subject to clearance from the Indian cricket board, he is expected to arrive in mid-April in time for the start of the season, and is expected to be available for the entire summer.
Worcestershire will look to him to repeat the success that Sri Lankan left-armer, Chaminda Vaas, enjoyed in the first half of last season, prior to the disastrous arrival of Shoaib Akhtar.
Having been let down so badly by the unreliable Shoaib last summer, Worcestershire were not prepared to be messed about again. Director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: "We're pleased for Nathan that he's had such a successful six months since we signed him but we really want stability with our overseas players.
"We targeted a left-arm fast bowler from the start of our deliberations for 2006. Zaheer has had an outstanding domestic season in India and is exactly the type of player we feel will bring variation to our bowling attack."
* Warwickshire's Michael Powell scored 61 to help Otago to 164 for five after the second day of their State Championship match against Auckland at Eden Park. Powell warmed up for the English domestic season with 11 boundaries in his 102-ball innings but was out leg-before shortly before the close to New Zealand Test seamer Kyle Mills. The first day of the match was lost to rain.