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CPL was my career best and a big boost for Indian Premier League: Sandeep

Nepal’s only globetrotting cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane came up with his career best performance in the Caribbean Premier League and now believes it would be a big boost for him going into the Indian Premier League that kicks off from September 19 in the UAE.

Sandeep featured for Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL, the franchise for whom he took 12 wickets from 11 games and carried the team into the semi-finals. Tallawahs were knocked out from the semi-finals but not before the Nepali star giving a display that would make Delhi Capitals think tank twice before making selections for this season’s IPL.

Sandeep had taken 15 wickets for Melbourne Stars franchise in last season’s Australian Big Bash League with an economy of 7.44. It’s the miserly economy of 5.27 that made him believe CPL was the best outing for Sandeep so far. As he prepares for Friday’s flight to Dubai, Sandeep talked to about his CPL adventure and upcoming Indian Premier League journey in an interview. Excerpts:

How do you sum up your performance in the Caribbean Premier League?

I think this was the best performance for me throughout my franchise Twenty20 career. I was in need of a performance that would boost my chances in the Indian Premier League and I am very glad that it came. This will definitely help me going into the IPL.

Sandeep was the most economical bowler for Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League: PHOTO COURTESY: LOOP JAMAICA

You took 15 wickets in the last season of Australian Big Bash League. Do you still consider this season’s CPL to be your best career show?

It depends on how you analyze a bowler’s performance. Bowling in the power plays or during the slog overs can fetch you wicket. Its something very obvious. I consistently bowled in the middle overs throughout the tournament. Its that stage of the game where a bowler is played very sensibly but can be hit really hard at the same time. People looking at the game closely will understand.

I managed to contain the batsmen during those stages and kept my economy below six. I came up with few variations and they worked too. I am more than happy with whatever I did in the Caribbean.

Where did it all go wrong for Tallawahs in the CPL?

We had a good tournament but we didn’t do well as a batting unit. The guys tried their best but batting let us down. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much to defend in the semi-finals. We were a team full of youngsters and have remained positive because there is another season as well for us.

What its like to play behind the closed doors, with no spectators?

Whenever we go outside Nepal, we get some supporters but there have been many instances where we have played without crowd. Back in Nepal as well, playing in the practice matches don’t get you supporters. Before the tournament began, all of us were mentally prepared that we have to make do without supporters and we were quite aware of the situation. We just needed to adjust ourselves. This might remain for the next one year. It does feel a bit awkward but all of us have to be prepared.

After Corona Virus pandemic, bio-bubble has become a new normal. Isn’t it a bit like choking to play an entire tournament remaining in that bubble under strict health protocols?

Bio bubble has already been there. In any franchise tournament, we don’t have much time to spend outside. Because of the day-night matches, we wake up late and fix our schedule accordingly. We normally don’t have time to go outside. The only thing is that we cannot meet any outsiders and that is not an issue for anyone playing the game.

Being picked up in the Delhi Capitals’ playing XI in the Indian Premier League is not going to be an easy task for Sandeep.

How much excited are you for the Indian Premier League? What are your chances to feature in the XI?

I have never been this excited for the IPL before. I was looking for a good performance and it happened just ahead of it.  Hopefully, I will get many chances to play. I am really excited to take up the big challenge. IPL is a big tournament for every cricketer and if I can go anywhere near the performance that I gave in CPL, it is going to be a huge achievement for me.

I have been following the practice sessions of Delhi ever since I left Nepal and came to play in the CPL. I am just hopeful that I can continue the rhythm that I got in the CPL.

Delhi has a good bunch of players and the competition is really going to be tough to get inside the playing XI. It all depends on who the team requires at the given situation. I don’t want to think so early about my playing chances. If I am good enough then I will surely have my chance.

UAE is one of the venues where Nepal have frequently played. How is this experience going to help you in the IPL?

We, as Nepali team, have played a lot in the UAE. Additionally, I have gathered experience of playing in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai as well. These are the experiences that are going to count in the future as well. I am confident that this experience will help me a lot. But the pressure is on me as well to make the most of the ground experience.

Sandeep Lamichhane shares a light moment with Delhi Capitals’ coach Ricky Ponting during the 2018 season of the Indian Premier League.

How do you analyse the Delhi Capitals team of this season?

Delhi is now one of the best teams in the IPL. We finished third last season but now I believe that we can go a step further and win the title. There are batsmen who have a haul of experience and youngsters who can hit the ball a long way. The team is led by a fine captain (Shreyas Ayer) as well.

I think the Delhi team is very fine and furnished. The bowlers are experienced as well, be it spinners or the fast bowlers. Even the bench is strong. Everyone from the bench as well  is good enough to win matches for us.

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