Sandeep Lamichhane is a lot more than just a cricketer. He is the flag bearer of the cricketing aspirations and talent and of an entire nation. The leg-spinner has helped etch the identity of Nepal on the cricketing globe.
Dominance of wrist spinners
At the time of the inception of the T20 World Cup in 2007, many held the view that spin bowling would die because of the format. Even several reputed cricket experts believed that spinners would have nowhere to hide and would be taken for plenty. However, as the story unfolded in front of our eyes, the fear was thankfully not materialized and spinners continue to be an integral part of the sport after the first decade of T20s.
Right from the time, the first ICC T20 World Cup was played, off-spinners had a huge role to play but gradually their utility is on the decline and wrist spinners are in demand all across the globe. The main reason for this is that their variations and unpredictability make them a wicket-taking option. They may go for runs on days but you know that a wrist spinner is adept at the art of buying wickets.
Along with Rashid Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Adil Rashid, Imran Tahir, and Shadab Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane is a name, which is becoming popular by the day.
Interestingly, Sandeep considered Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne as his cricketing idols while growing up.
It was in the Chitwan Cricket Academy in Nepal that Sandeep was spotted by Nepal’s captain Paras Khadka for the first time and was selected for the national under 19 training camp. During the 2016 under 19 Cricket World Cup, he picked up a hat-trick against Ireland in only his second match. He was the second highest wicket-taker in the tournament and soon received a letter from former Australian captain Michael Clarke to play for one of Sydney’s local clubs.
A life-changing moment came for Sandeep Lamichhane when he was selected to play for the Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) in the 2018 Indian Premier League. The selection was so momentous that it also lead to a comment from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about cricket being a unifying factor between the relationship of India and Nepal.
He was then picked up by St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League in March. A couple of months later, he featured for Delhi in the IPL and picked up five wickets in three matches. In June 2018, he played for the Montreal Tigers in the inaugural edition of the Global T20 Canada tournament and bagged eight wickets in five matches. In September, he also featured in the Afghanistan Premier League and the next month he was seen in action in the Big Bash League for Melbourne Stars. After playing a few matches, he flew down to Bangladesh to participate in the Bangladesh Premier League for Sylhet Sixers and once the tournament was over he was back in Australia for Melbourne Stars.
It is quite evident that in his short career, the demand for Sandeep has been quite high. He represented Nepal in the T2OI series against UAE and helped the team seal the series 2-1. The potential of the leg spinner has also been identified by the International Cricket Council who awarded him with ICC World Cricket League Division 2 player of the tournament after his 17 wickets at the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division 2 tournament in February 2018. The ICC named Lamichhane as one of the players to watch out for in the 2018 Cricket World Cup qualifier. After the tournament, the body named him as the rising star of Nepal’s squad.
A bright future
Sandeep was born in August 2000 and is one of the few international crickets to be born in this century. His career has just begun and at 18 years of age, he is certainly destined to achieve a lot more.
Obviously, in time, the infrastructure, facilities and the cricketing prowess of Nepal will get better and the team would start to get more and more international matches in the coming decade. In all likelihood, the rise of Nepal in international cricket will coincide with the rise of Sandeep Lamichhane as their star player and as a highly coveted leg-spinner across T20 leagues around the globe.