IPL 2018: Nepal teen Sandeep Lamichhane has connection with Ponting and Clarke
Lamichhane first came into the limelight at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.
What's the story?
Nepal's teenaged leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who recently pocketed an IPL contract for INR 20 lakh when he was picked by the Delhi Daredevils, has an Australian connection with cricket, which went a long way in bringing him into the limelight.
Having been observed by two former Australia captains, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke – Lamichhane entered the fray of playing in the world's richest T20 tournament.
In case you didn't know..
The 17-year-old Lamichhane, from Nepal, which is an associate cricketing nation still playing in Division Two, first attracted attention when he bagged a hat-trick in the Under-19 World Cup in 2016 hosted by Bangladesh. With a match haul of 5/27, he led Nepal to an eight-wicket win against Ireland. His 14 wickets in the tournament were also the second-most.
Just three months after that feat, he got the opportunity to play alongside Clarke and former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi in the Hong Kong Blitz T20 competition when he was chosen by the Kowloon Cantons side. Thereafter, Clarke, who was highly impressed with his leg-spinners, invited him to train and play in Australia for the Western Suburbs side in the NSW Premier Cricket season.
The heart of the matter
During his stint in Australia, Lamichhane had expressed his desire to play in the Big Bash League, the country's own franchise-based T20 competition. Though that deal may arrive soon too, he can now showcase his talent to hundreds of cricket watching public in the IPL.
"We have scouts who follow just the [ICC] Associate teams," Daredevils CEO Hemant Dua told the Indian Express. "We were tracking him, so we called him for a specific trial – just him. He just bowled in the nets and we saw him. We got his videos and shared that with the team. Everybody liked him. [Ricky] Ponting saw his bowling and gave his approval."
The eleventh edition of the IPL begins on April 7, with the first game at the Wankhede Stadium to be hosted by defending champions Mumbai Indians, who will also be hosting the final on May 27. Lamichhane's team Delhi Daredevils play their first match against the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali on April 8.
For successful cricketers like Ponting and Clarke to have provided such a young cricketer like Lamichhane, from the most humble of backgrounds, the exposure of the game at a high level can be treated as a gift for him. Their recommendations can help shape the careers of many more upcoming cricketers from Associate teams like Nepal.