Sandeep Lamichhane’s success ladder: Top five performances

Published On: May 22, 2018 09:16 AM NPT By: Rajan Shah

KATHMANDU, May 22: The praise for Sandeep Lamichhane is certain to continue for some time with humongous step up in his ability as a cricket player alongside top performers of the cricket world. The fact that he belongs from a country which is yet to play a one-day-international match, Nepal achieving the much-coveted ICC-ODI-status only earlier this year, makes it a compelling story of success against all odds. Here are his top five performances that laid strong ground for his journey this far.

The perfect introduction: 10-0-27-5 (Hat-trick & Player-of-the-match)
Match Result: 13th Match, Group D, ICC Under-19 World Cup at Fatullah, Jan 30, 2016
Ireland Under-19 131/9
Nepal Under-19 132/2 (25.3/50 ov)
Nepal U-19 won by 8 wickets (with 147 balls remaining)
Lamichhane took a hat-trick in his five-wicket haul against Ireland that was soundly beaten by eight wickets in Fatullah back in initial year in his first international tournament. He dismissed Ireland’s Lorcan Tucker, Adam Dennison and Fiachra Tucker to complete his hat-trick. With the win, Nepal booked a place in the last eight of the Under-19 World Cup for the first time.

Lamichhane became the only second player to take hat-trick in U19 cricket for Nepal. Avinash Karn had first taken the hat-trick against Bahrain during the 2013 ACC U19 Elite Cup. Shakti Gauchan is the only Nepali bowler to take a hat-trick in senior cricket for Nepal. He took the hat-trick during the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers against Denmark in United Arab Emirates. It was a perfect introduction to announce his arrival at international stage. It had everything, hat-trick, 5-wicket-haul and player-of-the-match award.

Solid senior debut: 
Match Result: 21st Match, ICC World Cricket League Championship at Kirtipur, Apr 16, 2016 
Namibia 195/9
Nepal 197/5 (47.1/50 ov)
Nepal won by 5 wickets (with 17 balls remaining)
Making his debut for senior team after an impressive U-19 World Cup, the 16-year-old never looked out of place bowling alongside, and in a way shielded by two bench-mark bowlers of Nepali spin bowling legacy Basant Regmi and Shakti Gauchan. Namibian batsman Pikky Ya France was his first ever List-A wicket. He only conceded 37 runs in his full quota of 10 overs in his debut match including two maiden overs. Nepal won the match by 5 wickets and kept the hopes alive to qualify for ICC World Cup Qualifiers back then.
For many times since then, and back then at his debut, Lamichhane made his presence felt as someone who deservedly belongs at the level he was performing.

The most important spell of his career: 3-0-27-2
Match Result: 3rd Match, Hong Kong Twenty20 Blitz at Mong Kok, May 28 2016
Kowloon Cantons: 162/7
Hung Hom Jaguars: 98/5 (12.2 ov, target 101)
Kowloon Cantons won by 2 runs (D/L method)
This was arguably the match that proved to be the turning point in the young leg-spinner’s career graph. Nepal’s teenage sensation Lamichhane was called up by Hong Kong Blitz franchise Kowloon Cantons in the three-day tournament, the first edition of the event organized by Hong Kong Cricket Association.

In a rain-marred tournament played in May 2016, Cantons could do with only one completed match which they won by two runs. In a playing XI already featuring the likes of Michael Clarke, the Aussie cricket legend, Ryan Campbell, the current Netherlands head coach, Babar Hayat, the current Hong Kong captain, and Scott McKechnie, the Cantons captain who scouted/pushed for Lamichhane to be included in the squad, the 16-year-old once again held his own picking up two wickets in his three overs against Hung Hom Jaguars. He dismissed Jaguars skipper Kinchit Shah and wicket-keeper Chris Carter, who was batting on 40 off 22 deliveries, both Hong Kong internationals. His team won the match by two runs.

That was enough to impress Michael Clarke to invite the teen prodigy to play for his home club Western Suburbs Districts Cricket Club in Sydney grade cricket 2016/17 season. 

Arrival at the big league: 10-5-20-5
Match Result: 10th match, ICC World Cricket League Division Two at Windhoek, Feb 12 2018
Kenya: 177/8
Nepal: 178/7 (50 ov)
Nepal won by 3 wickets (with 0 balls remaining)
Nepal moved a step closer to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe with a nail-biting three-wicket win off the final ball over Kenya at Wanderers Sports Park. Lamichhane announced his arrival in the big league with style–so far leading wicket-taker with 14 scalps - dismissing Obanda in his first over for the first of his flurry of five wickets wrapping up the Kenyan innings. Lamichhane’s extraordinary five maidens grounded the Kenya innings to a halt. Nepal eventually won in the last ball of the match and eventually progressed for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers. He further won the player-of-the-series award for his grand total of 17 wickets in the tournament.
One of the most closely fought ICC event followed by the observers and experts of the associate cricket world, Nepal played out of their skins to qualify for the big world cup qualifiers league. A 17-year-old leg-spinner carried the most part of the onus in his young but broad shoulders. 

Nerves of steel to stun IPL Champions: 4-0-36-3
Match Result: 55th match (D/N), Indian Premier League at Delhi, May 20 2018
Delhi Daredevils: 174/4
Mumbai Indians: 163 (19.3/20 ov)
Daredevils won by 11 runs
A strong performance in division two was followed by a meager ICC World Cup Qualifiers performance where Lamichhane picked up most wickets for Nepal but wasn’t as effective as he would have liked against the comparatively stronger batsmen of upper league. He was bought by Delhi daredevils to play in IPL before the Division Two tournament in January, all eyes were on him when Daredevils kept on updating every bit of his actions.

Lamichhane had to wait for his debut for Delhi Daredevils whilst assumptions were made if the purchase of a starlet from lesser known but internet-friendly Nepal was all but a commercial stunt to boost up fan following in the top associate nation-- in terms of fan following.  

All ended well as Lamichhane picked up total five wickets in tail-end of Daredevils’ Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign helping his team notch up two wins in the last three matches against the likes of table-toppers Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians.

More importantly, his best came against the best attacking team and defending champions Mumbai Indians dismissing the giants of the game Kieron Pollard, Surya Kumar Yadav (highest run-getter for Indians in IPL 2018) and Krunal Pandya (player only second to Hardik Pandya in most Player Points table). Mumbai batsmen attacked him but the less experienced lad from Nepal kept coming back picking up crucial wickets and breaking the back of the Mumbai chase. Mumbai lost the match and their hopes of defending the title was over before even reaching the playoffs.
Lamichhane finished his IPL campaign in the fourth place with the best economy rates and seventh in the strike-rates. A debut stint which will be best remembered for his bowling brilliance against the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma.

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