In bold IPL debut, Nepal’s Lamichhane makes a big statement | Cricket News

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In bold IPL debut, Nepal’s Lamichhane makes a big statement | Cricket News


NEW DELHI: An IPL cap has barely been as significant as the one handed to Sandeep Lamichhane by Ricky Ponting on Saturday evening. It was a moment that has given Nepal visibility in world cricket. They may have earned ICC’s ODI status, played a U-19 World Cup quarterfinal but sharing the same stage as the best of world cricket and competing against them still looked a distant dream for the people in Nepal.

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Here is Lamichhane, all of 17 years, carrying the ambition of a nation. His journey from that hat-trick against Ireland in the U-19 World Cup in Fatullah to being invited to Australia by Michael Clarke to a posh sports bar in Gurgaon for a trial for Delhi Daredevils culminated in sending down the first ball in Daredevils’ defence of 181.

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Lamichhane’s match figures of 1/25 from four overs bears greater significance than just statistics. He has been Daredevils’ answer to Yuzvendra Chahal, one of world’s top limited-overs leg-spinners, and more importantly Nepal’s statement to world cricket on the night.

There was no point in him battling anxiety and was put in the thick of things, knowing entire Nepal would be throbbing in anticipation. And his moment came 10 minutes later, getting his first wicket. Record books will say he trapped a man with 25 Tests behind him in front to his leg-spinner. He sent out a message. He can compete, something he was unsure of when he first arrived in Delhi. “The balls which are seen as good ones to associate nations are easily hit by batsmen here in the nets,” Lamichhane had said last month.

Moments later Lamichhane sent down his favourite googly to AB de Villiers. He likes to call himself ‘leg-break googly bowler’. He was living his dream and thriving in it. Virat Kohli and de Villiers struggled to get him away with absolute authority. The night has been Lamichhane’s and it has come through putting in hours in the nets for a month. “He keeps on bowling. I get worried he might tire himself out. I need to keep a watch on him,” Daredevils coach Ricky Ponting had said up front in the IPL.

The learning curve has just begun. For Nepal’s sake, hope it’s a pretty long one.



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