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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Sandeep Lamichhane hopes IPL 2018 debut opens door for other Nepal cricketers

'Just as I have had a chance in IPL, there is lots of talent in Nepal,' Lamichhane says after memorable debut for Delhi Daredevils

Delhi Daredevils leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane was pleased to get the chance to play in the IPL. Altaf Qadri / AP Photo
Delhi Daredevils leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane was pleased to get the chance to play in the IPL. Altaf Qadri / AP Photo

Sandeep Lamichhane said he hoped his journey to the Indian Premier League would help pave the way for others to follow, after becoming the first Nepal cricketer to play in the competition.

The 17-year-old leg-spinner was handed a belated debut for Delhi Daredevils against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the 48,000-capacity Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Saturday night.

Although his side were comfortably beaten, following characteristically masterful innings by AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli, the rookie spinner shone.

After being handed the task of opening the bowling – for the first time in his career – he finished as the pick of the home side’s bowling attack, with one for 25 from four probing overs.

Kohli hit him for one four, and De Villiers a six that just evaded a boundary fielder. Other than that, Lamichhane was sparkling.

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It marked quite the rise for a player who only learnt of his selection for cricket’s biggest league while on his way to a practice session at the ICC Academy in Dubai earlier this year.

He subsequently played a key role in his country’s march through World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia, and then on to one-day international status at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimababwe in March.

“Just as I have had a chance in IPL, there is lots of talent in Nepal,” Lamichhane said. “The journey has started, and I think there [will be] lots of opportunities for players in Nepal.”

It had taken Delhi six weeks and 11 matches to give the young legspinner his chance. With just three matches left, the side’s prospects of advancing to the next phase were already sunk, but Lamichhane is not bitter he had not been tried earlier.

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“We had a meeting yesterday [Friday] and I got to know I would be playing,” he said.

“It was the decision of the captain [Shreyas Iyer] and coach [Ricky Ponting] and it was wonderful I was playing.

“I think the most important thing is how you are learning all of the time. It has been a very good one and a half months.

"I have learnt a lot of things. We have an exceptional coach, a good captain, and all the players are very good.

“I have been very lucky so far. This moment does not come very easily. I still have a long way to go and a lot of hard work to do.”