DIRECTOR of cricket Steve Rhodes is relishing the prospect of Ravichandran Ashwin joining Worcestershire’s Specsavers County Championship Division Two promotion battle.

Indian star Ashwin has been brought in to replace the injured John Hastings as the County’s overseas player for the final four Championship games.

He flew into Birmingham on Friday evening to start his spell at New Road after obtaining a visa and No Objection Certificate from the Board Of Control For Cricket In India.

Ashwin is set to make his debut in Monday’s home clash with Gloucestershire and becomes the third international spinner to link up with Worcestershire this summer after Nathan Lyon (Australia) and Mitchell Santner (New Zealand).

Rhodes said: “He is such a terrific international bowler. We are very lucky to get him and I only hope people don’t put too much pressure on the guy. He is only human.

“But he is a wonderful all-rounder, someone who gets hundreds in Test cricket batting at number six, and we are very pleased he has chosen to come to Worcestershire.

“We are delighted to have someone of his skills and stature in the game playing for us in this crucial last four games.

“The plan is for him to get a day or two for practice and get to know the lads and get over a bit of jet lag and then be up and running for Monday."

Rhodes admitted: “You could easily not sign someone for this period and go with what we’ve got.

“But we are second in the table and desperately want to be in that top two.”

Skipper Joe Leach is closing in on the completion of a superb County Championship hat-trick.

Leach goes into the Gloucestershire game needing just three more wickets to reach the 50 mark in the competition for a third successive season.

The 26-year-old has led by example with the ball in the longer format of the game this summer.

Leach picked up 59 Championship wickets from 14 games in 2015, 65 from 16 matches in 2016 and to date has 47 from 10 appearances this summer after his three victims against Sussex at New Road.

It adds up to 171 wickets from 40 matches since he forced his way back into the side for the third match of the 2015 season.

Leach is also the second highest wicket-taker in Division Two after Sussex’s Jofra Archer (49) edged past him with five wickets at New Road.

Josh Tongue in his first season of senior cricket has 36 Championship wickets, the sixth best tally in Division Two.

On the batting front Worcestershire opener Daryl Mitchell is the fourth highest Division Two run-getter with 758 behind Joe Denly (921), Luke Wells (794) and Paul Collingwood (788).

Mitchell is the only player in the division to have struck four centuries this summer.

County team-mate Joe Clarke’s excellent run of form has also catapulted him into 10th spot with 722.

The duo both have four games remaining to try to reach the 1,000-run mark for the season, a milestone they both reached in first-class cricket in 2016.