From playing cricket in the bylanes of Sauraha, Nepal to bagging a contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, 17-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane’s journey has been anything but ordinary. He is the first Nepali player to be selected for an IPL team but this isn’t the first time he is playing in a glitzy T20 league. He has previously been part of teams in the Carribean Premier League and the Hong Kong T20 Blitz but the IPL remains on a different level and the enormity of the occasion is not lost on the young leg-spinner.
“When I was in Nepal, I was practicing one evening (around 6 pm) and I got a mail from DD CEO Hemant Dua. They called me for the trials and I was actually shocked. I didn’t expect it all,” he said in an interaction with reporters in Delhi on Saturday, “I was a bit excited and nervous as well. I was expecting trials to happen at Feroz Shah Kotla but due to rains, it happened indoors. I bowled a few deliveries, good and line length. It was good.”
When asked how different has it been bowling to world class batsmen, Lamichhane said, “Got a lot of experience in two and three days and getting to learn a lot. Some of the balls which can’t be hit by associate batsmen can be smashed by international batsmen.”
The Nepali spinner has also been in awe of captain Gautam Gambhir and coach Ricky Ponting. Reflecting on his relationship with the duo, he said, “Gambhir is a person who loves giving chance to youngsters. From the first day, he was very caring for me as well. It gives a lot of positiviy when a captain believes in you. Ricky Ponting is a fantastic guy who loves cricket. There are lots of things – from entering the ground to how to love your game and his passion. It’s always a precious when you share the dressing room with these kinds of legends.”
Lamichhane’s selection in the IPL is part of a recent upturn in fortunes Nepalese cricket has experienced the past couple of years. Their progress has culminated in the land-locked country securing an ODI status earlier this month. Lamichhane believes that his participation in the IPL will raise the bar even further and help cricket develop back home. “We were nowhere in cricket for the last two years. After gaining ODI status it gives lots of opportunity in future. Last two years have been topsy-turvy, IPL will help cricket grow in Nepal. Future stars willing to play for Nepal will be pleased to see this. Everybody is loving it back home.”
Urging the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give more opportunities for Associate nations on the global stage, the teenager hoped that in future the number of participating teams will increase from the existing count of 10. “Every player dreams of playing a World Cup and this time the number of teams has been reduced to 10. ICC should have increased the number of teams as it would give a chance for players to fulfill their dreams,” he signed off by saying.