Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

PSL 2019: Sandeep Lamichhane wins battle of mind games to inspire Lahore Qalandars to victory

Nepalese teenager has enjoyed a sharp rise on cricket's global stage, his latest exploits setting up an eight-wicket win over Quetta Gladiators

Sandeep Lamichhane had plenty of reasons to smile during Lahore Qalandars' win over Quetta Gladiators. Courtesy PCB
Sandeep Lamichhane had plenty of reasons to smile during Lahore Qalandars' win over Quetta Gladiators. Courtesy PCB

A little over a year ago, Sandeep Lamichhane was playing against the UAE on a club ground in Namibia which was waterlogged in patches, and had a rugby scrum machine just beyond the boundary rope, waiting to be famous.

On Wednesday night at the 25,000-seater Dubai International Stadium, with his star now firmly in the ascendant, he admitted to playing mind games with some of the world’s best known batsmen. And winning.

“I made a plan, and I was trying to play with their mind,” Lamichhane said, after inspiring Lahore Qalandars’ eight-wicket win over Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.

“Like, getting a slip in for the right-handed batsmen then bowling a wrong ’un. Then, if there are any left-handed batsmen, putting a slip in and bowling leg spin.

“I was trying to deceive the batsmen.”

Fair to say it worked. To the tune of four wickets for 10 runs from four sparkling overs, a spell that took the game away from the league’s leading side, and spun it in favour of historically the worst side of the PSL. If Lamichhane maintains this sort of form, Lahore will be underachievers no more.

The identity of his victims was just as impressive as the quantity of them. Shane Watson, the veteran Australian opener who won the final of the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings single-handedly last year, was the first to succumb, trapped lbw by a googly.

Rilee Rossouw, the sixth-highest run-getter in this competition so far was next, with Umar Akmal, first in that particular list, quickly to follow, entirely outfoxed, and bowled through the gate.

Quetta were dazzled. They capitulated to 106 all out, and Lahore chased it with the minimum of fuss, eight-wicket winners, with 21 balls to spare.

“This was an important win for us, and thankfully I performed well and was able to contribute for the team today,” Lamichhane said, after being named man of the match.

“It was really, really enjoyable for me. Getting those three early wickets in the power play was really good for us, because they had been going really well in the early overs.”

Quetta had, as Lamichhane pointed out, started powerfully, with Ahsan Ali being particularly savage on Yasir Shah, taking him for 20 in the over before the younger of Lahore’s two leg-spinners was introduced into the attack.

Lamichhane will have been happy to stem the flow of runs, not just to help his team, but also to help his mate.

Yasir and he clearly have a fine rapport already. Ninety minutes before the start of the game, the two spinners had been the first out on to the playing field. They were barely separable thereafter, even once the game had started.

When Yasir picked up a solitary wicket late on, it was Lamichhane who had run around the boundary rope to catch it.

“It’s an absolute pleasure for me, because he is a guy who has been making his country proud every time,” Lamichhane said.

“He has been an exceptional player for Pakistan. Sharing a dressing room with him and getting experience from him has been great for me.”

Updated: February 28, 2019 12:05 PM

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