NPL Sports, 29th Jan: Sandeep Lamichhane on Sunday became the first cricketer from Nepal to feature in an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise when Delhi Dardevils bought the 17-year-old leg-spinner for a base price of INR 2 million (Rs 3.2 million).
Daredevils’ bidders table raised the flag for Nepal’s star cricketer after he was named for the acceleration bid on the second day of the auction held in Bangalore.
Lamichhane had made the headlines as Nepal’s Shane Warne during the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup.
“It’s great that my name has made the country proud. Now there is an opportunity for me to do good and open doors for other Nepali cricketers as well. I am excited to share the dressing room with the stars of the game. I am gaining all the things step by step and would like to remain grounded,” Lamichhane said from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
He is with the Nepal team in the UAE currently preparing for the Division Two of the World Cricket League in Namibia.
Lamichhane’s inclusion in the world of professional Twenty20 cricket league that has maximum number of viewership across the world is a big boost for Nepal cricket which is not yet a full member of the International Cricket Council. Nepal participated in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20.
It is currently fighting for the top two spots in next month’s ICC World Cricket League Division 2. If Nepal finishes in the top two, it will win a place in the World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe this March.
In contrast to the on field exploits that Nepal has had in the last few years, the country’s cricket governing body has been suspended since April 25, 2016. National cricket team skipper Paras Khadka said Lamichhane’s entry in IPL is encouragement for youth.
“This is a massive boost for Nepal cricket. It proves talent will be recognised irrespective of the shortcomings in our surrounding. I hope this will encourage all youngsters to play this beautiful game. We are very proud of Lamichhane,” Khadka told the Post from Dubai.
Lamichhane’s rise in Nepal cricket has been no less than a fairytale. Brought to Kathmandu by former coach Pubudu Dassanayake in September 2015 following a round of trials for youngsters in Chitwan Cricket Academy, he was ignored for the ICC Under-19 World Cup Global Qualifiers, held the same year in Malaysia.
“The qualifiers’ snub hurt the teenager’s ego and pushed him to perform and win a place in the U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh,” said Raju Khadka, former national team captain under whom Lamichhane trained for three years.
Lamichhane became the fifth bowler in U-19 World Cup to take a hat-trick when he returned with a five-for against Ireland. He ended up as tournament’s second highest wicket-taker and was dubbed as Nepal’s Shane Warne in international media—BBC was one of them posting his spinning video on their website.
Three months later, Lamichhane played alongside Australian World Cup-winning captain Michael Clarke in a Hong Kong Twenty20 Blitz tournament. Although he managed to bowl just few overs in the rain-hit Twenty20 game, his bowling was enough to impress Clarke who later sponsored Lamichhane for a tour to his Michael Clarke Cricket Academy and guided him to Western Suburbs to play Australian Grade Cricket.
From a small academy in Chitwan to Delhi Daredevils, Lamichhane’s success story is a two-year fairytale journey in his fledgling cricketing career. Australia’s former captain Ricky Ponting was at the Daredevils’ auction table as coach of the franchise when the flag was raised on Sunday.
The Australian factor might have helped for Lamichhane’s IPL adventure, but his bowling prowess will be put to test by experienced professionals when the tournament begins on April 7 in Mumbai.