IPL 2018: Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichhane ready for Delhi Daredevils step up | cricket | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2018: Nepal spinner Sandeep Lamichhane ready for Delhi Daredevils step up

Sandeep Lamichhane, whose bowling heroics in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier helped Nepal gain ODI status for the first time early in March, has been bought by Delhi Daredevils.

cricket Updated: Mar 31, 2018 23:37 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
Nepal cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane is hoping to make his mark with Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2018.
Nepal cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane is hoping to make his mark with Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2018.(Getty Images)

A key objective when the Indian Premier League (IPL) was launched in 2008 was to unearth talent in the teams’ catchment areas, and help it grow in the environment of international stars.

That rule was flouted by franchises from the start as domestic talent came to the fore more by chance. But the world’s biggest T20 league is tapping into another catchment area.

Rashid Khan’s was a great human interest story rising from strife-torn Afghanistan after the teenaged leg-spinner was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for R4 crore in the 2017 player auction. He delivered for the 2016 champions, taking 17 wickets in 14 games, becoming the second-highest wickettaker for Sunrisers Hyderabad, and joint sixth overall in IPL 2017.

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Rashid Khan has become a household name even in India and is inspiring fresh cricketing dreams in Afghanistan --- he helped his country come from the brink to seal a 2019 World Cup berth.

Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane is now taking early steps in that direction. The 17-year-old with a penchant for singing --- he has cut his first album --- has joined Delhi Daredevils for the pre-season camp ahead of IPL 2018, starting on April 7.

Lamichanne’s bowling heroics helped Nepal, whose national body is suspended by ICC for government interference, seal ODI status for the first time after a playoff win over Papua New Guinea in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier in March.

Confident demeanour

Wearing ear-studs and speaking at a media interaction on Saturday at Ferozeshah Kotla with all the confidence of a millennial, Sandeep Lamichhane is confident the ODI status will give Nepal many more chances to play and improve.

The youngster, who took a hat-trick against Ireland in the 2016 U-19 World Cup, acknowledges IPL will be a big step up from playing second-rung international teams, but wants to tap into the knowledge of Delhi Daredevils coach, Ricky Ponting, skipper Gautam Gambhir and others.

“I’ll get to learn a lot. The difference (playing versus Associate teams and in IPL) is some deliveries those batsman can’t play these (pointing to the DD training group) guys can smash,” he said on Saturday.

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There is already a sense of achievement. Sandeep Lamichhane recalled how he was ‘shocked’ when Hemant Dua (DD CEO) sent him a mail, asking him to report for trials before auction. “I was excited and nervous; I had a flight at 7 am, and went to sleep at 3 am. It was raining when I landed, and I was taken to an indoor nets (in Gurgaon) and bowled a few balls.”

Gambhir took Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles and guided Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla there. It remains to be seen how many games Sandeep will get to play, but he knows what it will take. “He is a kind of guy who backs youngsters. And if he believes in you, the trust will become stronger.”

Lamichhane though can hum a tune if he feels frustrated on the sidelines. “It’s my second hobby. I won’t say I’m a big singer, but it refreshes me.”