Kathmandu, March 26

National team cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane was excited over his participation in the Indian Premier League as he is about to embark on the biggest journey of Twenty20 cricket.

Lamichhane, the first Nepali cricketer to feature in the IPL after being picked up by Delhi Daredevils in January’s auction, said he was heading towards a complete new journey of his career. “I think it is a fantastic opportunity for any player,” said Sandeep, at a press meet today, on the eve of his departure to India. “Whether I will get a chance to play or not, the IPL will be a great platform for me to learn,” he added.

The 17-year-old legspinner thanked the senior cricketers for creating a platform from where he was able to make it to the IPL. “I am grateful to the senior players who brought Nepali team to this level. Taking the team from ICC World Cricket League Division-V to the ODI status is not a joke and the efforts put in by my seniors is invaluable,” said Lamichhane. “I always feel proud to be a part of the national team.”

Lamichhane said the chances of making it to the playing eleven would depend on performance in practice and training. “I will go under medical examination first and we will probably train from March 29. Everybody knows legspin is not an easy art and Delhi already have Amit Mishra as a champion legspinner. I believe the management will select the best eleven and the team’s win is more important,” said Lamichhane.

Australian great Ricky Ponting is the coach of Delhi Daredevils with Gautam Gambhir leading the side. “As I will be training under the best coaching team and get a chance to rub shoulders with top cricketers of the world, I will have the opportunity to learn a lot from them,” he said.

Born at Aruchaur Talpokhari of Syangja district, Lamichhane stayed in India with his father Chandra Narayan Lamichhane — who works for Indian Railways — and studied there until fourth grade. He then went to Chitwan Cricket Academy where former national team skipper Raju Khadka identified his talent and groomed him.

Lamichhane’s journey took off when the then Canadian coach Pubudu Dassanayake was impressed with his bowling and picked him for the youth camp at the age of 14. With his talent, Lamichhane made it to the ICC U-19 World Cup squad in 2016 and came into limelight when he bagged five wickets, including a hat-trick against Ireland.

The fairy tale journey took another turn when he was invited to take part in a T20 tournament in Hong Kong after Lamichhane impressed the visiting Marylebone Cricket Club officials. Lamichhane caught the eyes of former Australian skipper Michael Clarke in Hong Hong and he received the invitation to train at Michael Clarke Academy and play a local league.

For Lamichhane, the IPL is another milestone in his glitzy career and said his appearance in the world’s top T20 league would open avenues for other players. “My performance in IPL will open doors for other Nepali cricketers, who, I think, are more deserving than me,” he said. “ I have been playing for Nepali team and I feel proud of that as I could not have achieved all these successes if I had not played for the national team,” he added. “And I have taken all these things positively because it has motivated me to move ahead.”

The 17-year-old cricketer believed that he was lucky to get into national team’s camp but that came through a lot of hard works. “I think I was lucky to get into the national team but then I have achieved successes with my hard works,” added Lamichhane.