Five-wicket haul sets up his team for crucial final-round match against Canada in bid to keep 2019 World Cup hopes alive, writes Paul Radley from Namibia
Watch: Sandeep Lamichhane rises to the occasion in another 'heart-attack game' as Nepal edge Kenya
Anyone wondering just how the callow teenager from beyond cricket’s mainstream is going to cope with the pressure of the Indian Premier League (IPL) when he joins in April might be able to find a few pointers in Namibia this week.
Tension is what the Nepal national team do best. And, in his most important senior competition to date, Sandeep Lamichhane has been thriving.
The 17-year-old leg-spinner, who will be competing for a place with the likes of Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada when he joins up with Delhi Daredevils at the IPL, was close to unplayable in Windhoek on Monday.
He took 5-20 in his 10 overs, which included five maidens, as Nepal restricted Kenya to 177-8 in the World Cricket League Division 2.
They scampered the two they needed off the last ball to win it, another nerve-shredding finish for a side who opened the competition with a one-wicket, final-over win against hosts Namibia last week.
“This is a tradition of Nepal cricket,” Lamichhane joked after the win over Kenya. “It was a heart-attack game for me, the first time I have faced these kinds of conditions. You feel relieved after winning a match like this.”
Lamichhane’s five-wicket haul was his first in senior cricket for Nepal, and took clear at the top of the competition’s wicket-taking charts, on 14 from four matches. The next best is 10, by Oman’s Bilal Khan.
“Every time, if I can contribute for my team, it always feels good,” Lamichhane said.
Following on 24 hours after victory in a rain-shortened, 34-over match against the UAE, the result against Kenya took Nepal to second place in the table.
Seven kilometres away, at United Sports ground, Namibia were reviving their own chances of advancing to the World Cup Qualifier next month.
They inflicted a first loss of the competition on Canada, winning by 17 runs after posting 268-8 from their 50 overs.
All of which means the permutations for the remainder of the competition are complicated. Canada and Nepal, who are separated at the top of the table by net run-rate, play each other on Wednesday, in the final round of pool matches.
The winner of that would be guaranteed to advance to the final phase of the qualifying process for next year’s World Cup.
The loser could yet join them, while Namibia – who face Kenya in a rain-delayed fixture on Tuesday – and the UAE are also in with a chance of claiming the second qualifying place.
World Cricket League Div 2: Fixtures and team-by-team guide