It was for the first time that a Nepalese bowler who was sold in the IPL auction. Sandeep Lamichhane was bought by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 20 lakh. The leg-spinner created a sensation of sorts with triumphant U19 World Cup in 2016. Not only did he end up becoming the second-highest wicket taker of the tournament and also led his team to a creditable eighth place.
En route, Nepal defeated the likes of New Zealand and Ireland. The game against Ireland was Lamichhane’s defining moment – he single-handedly ensured the win with a five-wicket haul, including a hat-trick. Moreover, his wickets were a connoisseur’s delight; bowling off a conventional action, three of his dismissals were gained via foxing the batsmen and having them bowled.
Prompting Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to tweet: “Not just me, but the entire nation is proud of you.”
Lamichhane reflected: “If you get the chance to play in the IPL, lots of players will be there who are very experienced guys and I think I will learn a lot.”
The teenager is expected to raise the cricketing profile of Nepal – the only South Asian nation not to have Tested, one-day or T20 status, barring the isolated kingdom of Bhutan.
What are his strengths?
Despite being only 17, Lamichhane already has a wealth of experience in various competitions under his belt and, coming from a strong cricket culture which regularly sees crowds of 15000 attend domestic matches in Kathmandu, it’s doubtful that he’ll be overawed by the magnitude of being a part of the IPL.
Among the higher profile players Lamichhane has trained with are Shahid Afridi and Michael Clarke, both of whom were his team-mates at Kowloon Cantons in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. Despite only bowling three overs in a rain-affected tournament in 2016, it was enough to catch Clarke’s attention and he subsequently received an invite to train under Clarke with Western Suburbs in the Sydney grade competition. The bond with Clarke may have influenced Daredevils coach Ricky Ponting into taking a punt on Lamichhane.
What has he been up to recently?
Lamichhane took 12 wickets in nine matches for Nepal during the WCL Championship. He also took nine wickets in seven matches last month in Nepal’s franchise T20 competition, the Everest Premier League.
What are the highlights of his career?
He first gained attention at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup by taking a hat-trick during his 5 for 27 to set up an eight-wicket thumping of Ireland. In the knockout stages, he outshined Shadab Khan in a three-wicket performance against Pakistan and finished with 14 wickets in six matches, second-most in the tournament.
Three months later, he played in his first overseas T20 competition when he was drafted into the Kowloon Cantons squad for the inaugural Hong Kong Blitz. It was there that he made the crucial Clarke connection to chart a course towards the IPL.