While the entire nation of Nepal is rejoicing for the fact that Sandeep Lamichhane has been shortlisted for the 2018 VIVO IPL Player Auctions to be held in Bangalore, India on Jan 27th – 28th, 2018, many wouldn’t know for the fact that it was HKT20 Blitz, which probably gets some credit for his rise in the ranks in World Cricket.
It was in 2016 when Cricket Hong Kong launched their marquee T20 league, HKT20 Blitz and a little-known Nepali leggie was drafted in by the Kowloon Cantons franchise to play for them.
It all started when Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) toured Nepal and Hong Kong player Scott McKechnie scouted Sandeep for his performances and approached Kowloon Cantons to provide him an opportunity to play for them in T20 Blitz.
Also in the squad was an inspirational ex-captain and World Cup winner with Australia, Michael Clarke. The tournament was a dampner due to weather and rains and the tournament spanned across 3-4 days hardly saw any significant action but with the little game time Cantons had, Michael knew that Sandeep had a thing or two about him and with good support and coaching, he could become one of the most successful Nepal players in a long time coming.
At the conclusion of the Inaugural edition of the Blitz, Clarke knew about Sandeep’s potential as a leg-spinner and invited him to play Grade cricket in Sydney, an offer Sandeep gladly accepted as it would be a good development program to improve on his bowling skills. A stint with Western Suburbs saw him play both “B” and “A” grade matches but Sandeep had his moments of success as he picked up a good haul of wickets to cap off a satisfactory outing in Australia.
Back home, he was always the lynchpin of Nepal’s U-19 team and a developing member for the Senior side and while most of his successes in 2017 came for the U-19 team, playing the U-19 Asia Cup Qualifiers, U-19 World Cup Qualifiers & the U-19 Asia Cup, his performances for the Senior side in ICC WCL matches have been modest. The highlight for him in 2017 will surely be the U-19 team’s victory over India U-19 in the U-19 Asia Cup.
Decent performances in the recently concluded Everest Premier League again highlighted that with more exposure and proper coaching, Sandeep has lots to offer to International Cricket much like the Big fish of World Cricket, Afgahnistan’s Rashid Khan, who too had a tough upbringing to where he stands today among the best in the business.
If he does get selected by any of the franchises during the IPL Player Auctions, we can definitely say that HKT20 Blitz and Clarke’s influence in his young career has been a contributing factor towards him potentially reaching a contract to play in the biggest T20 leagues across the globe.