India's Gambhir joins Essex

India batsman Gautam Gambhir is to play for Essex for the remainder of the season, the English county announced Thursday.

The 31-year-old left-handed opener will replace New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford as Essex's overseas player, with Gambhir likely to make his debut for the club in their County Championship match against Northamptonshire, starting on August 20.

Rutherford is due to return home after Saturday's Twenty20 finals day ahead of New Zealand's domestic and international competitions.

World Cup-winner Gambhir, who has scored 4,021 Test runs at an average of 44.18, said in a statement: "I am delighted to have this chance to make my county cricket debut with Essex.

"After the IPL (Indian Premier League) 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 (Board of Control for Cricket in India) for allowing me to participate in county cricket.

"I hope I can make some meaningful contributions to Essex in the ongoing season," he added.