Lamichhane makes dream debut in IPL

Kathmandu, May 12

Nepal’s leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane claimed a wicket for Delhi Daredevils in his Indian Premier League debut match against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi today.

But he fell in the losing side as RCB pulled a five-wicket victory. Put into bat first, Delhi posted 182-4 in 20 overs before RCB rode on half centuries from Virat Kohli and AB dear Villiers to reach 183-5 with six balls to spare. The loss meant Delhi were out of the playoff race, while RCB kept their top four hopes alive.

Defending the moderate total, Delhi skipper Shreyas Iyer handed the new ball to Lamichhane and the 17-year-old leggie made an impressive start conceding just six runs. After Trent Boult separated the opening pair, Lamichhane reduced RCB to 18-2 in the third over — his second — when he trapped Parthiv Patel leg before the wicket in the fourth ball.

Lamichhane conceded just 25 runs in his four-over spell that included two boundaries and a six. AB de Villiers hit the six, while Patel and Virat Kohli struck one four each.

Lamichhane became the first Nepali cricketer to feature in IPL after Delhi picked up the leg-spinner in the IPL auction in Bengaluru in December last year. Delhi bought Lamichhane — who is compared with Australian great Shane Warne — for the base amount of two million Indian rupees.

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.

The then Canadian coach Pubudu Dassanayake was impressed with Lamichhane’s bowling and picked him for the youth team camp at the age of 14. 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. He also got an opportunity to train at Michael Clarke Academy run by the former Australian skipper.

In day’s first match, Kolkata Knight Riders racked up their biggest total in the IPL and defeated Kings XI Punjab by 31 runs. Sunil Narine’s blistering 75 off 36 balls and captain Dinesh Karthik’s robust 50 off 23 lifted Kolkata to 245-6 after Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin won the toss and opted to chase on a small ground. Lokesh Rahul (66) hit his third successive half-century in the tournament but the rest of the Punjab top order fell against Andre Russell (3-41) before Ashwin’s quick 45 took his team to 214-8 at the end.

Kolkata moved to No 4 with 12 points while third-place Punjab have the same total but a better net run-rate. Punjab also have played a game less than Kolkata’s 12.

Narine capitalised on an early dropped catch when Mujeebur Rahman injured his bowling hand in his second over while attempting a difficult return catch. The Afghanistan spinner went off for scans. When he returned to the field in the 16th over, he was smashed for two fours and two sixes by Karthik.

Chris Lynn (27) and Narine provided Kolkata a brisk start of 53 off 32 balls before Lynn dragged the ball back onto his stumps while attempting a pull shot off seamer Andrew Tye, who took 4-41.

Narine then added 75 quick runs with Robin Uthappa (24) before Tye returned and dismissed both batsmen in the 12th over. But Mujeeb’s absence due to injury cost Punjab heavily in the middle overs as Karthik and Andre Russell (31) propelled the innings with a 76-run fourth-wicket stand off just 31 balls.

Tye once again got the breakthrough when Russell top-edged a short pitched delivery and Karthik also holed out at long off after hitting five fours and three sixes.

Rahul continued his scintillating form in this year’s IPL by smacking two fours and seven sixes as Punjab’s top order crumbled around him.

Chris Gayle went for 21 as Russell got two wickets off successive deliveries in the sixth over. Russell found a thin edge off Gayle’s mistimed pull and then Mayank Agarwal followed next ball as he holed out in the deep while also attempting a pull shot. Rahul chopped Narine back onto his stumps while going for a sweep and, when Axar Patel couldn’t clear left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav and was caught at long off, Punjab reeled at 119-5 in the 12th over.