An international debut for a World XI, can you imagine that? Improbable, it may seem, but it happened to Sandeep Lamichchane, a leg spinner from Nepal. That too at the age of 17.
Lamichchane, 20, is now an accomplished T20 player. His attacking blend of leg-breaks and ripping googlies have rocked some of the top T20 leagues in the world. As a Nepalese international, his sensational spells in the World Cricket League Division II fetched him a place in the Rest of World team It was a Hurricane Relief match, a T20 international nevertheless. That too at Lord’s. It truly is a cricketing fairytale.
Delhi played a pivotal role in that fairytale. As a 17-year-old, Lamichchane got a glimpse of top-flight cricket when Delhi Daredevils [the present Delhi Capitals] recruited him in 2018, making him the first Nepali cricketer to play in the biggest T20 stage in the world. Three seasons later, he’s established himself as an important member of the Delhi Capitals’ squad led by Shreyas Iyer. That too in a side which includes another leggie, former India international Amit Mishra. It certainly is a glowing testimony to his growing reputation, which has earned him contracts from T20 leagues around the world.
Lamichchane is very much the poster boy for Nepalese cricket, the only Nepali to figure in the T20 leagues. Over three years, he’s turned up for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Barbados Tridents and Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League. In Australia, his incisive bowling for Melbourne Stars has set the Big Bash League alight since 2018.
He [Lamichchane] can open the bowling, he can bowl in the middle and he can bowl at the end.
Stars’ coach David Hussey would attest to that. “He’s been fantastic for us for there last two years, he’s a great person,” Hussey told cricket.com.au. “He can open the bowling, he can bowl in the middle and he can bowl at the end,” he added.
The conditions in the UAE are familiar to Lamichchane, having played here for the Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League and the Nangarhar Leopards in the Afghanistan Premier League. The Sylhet Sixers took him to Bangladesh, and he’s had stints with Montreal Tigers and Toronto Nationals in the Globe T20 Canada. So international experience, he has aplenty. And his skills and confidence have grown while pitting his bowling against some of the best batsmen in the world.
Early slice of fortune
Born in Syangya, Nepal, Lamichchane was initiated into the world of cricket in the dusty streets of Aruchaur. It was tennis-ball cricket, but it helped develop his skills. And he learned to rip his deliveries. His first break came in a rather fortuitous way.
Nepal coach Pubudu Dassanayake ran into a 14-year-old Lamichchane during a stopover in Chitwan province after attending a wedding in the capital Kathmandu. Dassanayake was impressed by the youngster’s bowling and drafted him into the national under-19 training camp.
Soon he was playing List A cricket [for associate members of the International Cricket Council] and made a splash in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. An invitation from former Australian captain Michael Clarke to play for the Western Suburbs District Cricket Club in Sydney was just the beginning of his international cricket journey.
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Lamichchane’s dreams came true in 2018, a year he’s unlikely to forget. It was the year of Tthe ICC World Cricket League Division II, which turned out to be the springboard to his future. A series of excellent displays brought him the Player of the Tournament award. He was picked for the World XI, even before he’s played a T20 international. And he landed a contract with the Delhi Daredevils.
It was a year that changed his life and career. With a bushel of T20 contracts, Lamicchane now dreams of playing Test cricket for Nepal. That’d be the perfect end to the fairytale. But before that Delhi Capitals would want him to help them clinch their maiden IPL title.
Will that happen in the UAE? Let’s wait and watch.