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ICC should give chance to associate nations in World Cup, says Nepal’s cricket sensation Sandeep Lamichhane

NEW DELHI: Nepal’s cricket sensation Sandeep Lamichhane on Saturday urged administrative body of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to increase the number of teams in the World Cup to give associate nations a better chance of playing on the sport’s biggest stage.

Lamichhane, 17, and his teammates made history earlier this month when Nepal were given the one-day international status at the World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.

The 2019 World Cup in England and Wales will have 10 teams including the West Indies and Afghanistan, who paved their ways in tournament through the qualifiers.

Lamichhane, the first Nepalese player to land an Indian Premier League deal, believes the International Cricket Council should give more opportunities to up-and-coming teams.

“Every player from every country dreams of playing in the World Cup,” the leg-spinner told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday.

“ICC should have increased the number of teams so that every player gets a chance to play in the World Cup and push their skills to the top level.”

He has come a long way for competing against players from associate nations including some cricket’s biggest stars in India’s cash-rich Twenty-20 tournament.

The IPL’s Delhi Daredevils paid $318,000 to sign him in January.

Now Lamichhane, who has been likened to spin legend Shane Warne, is being coached by World Cup-winning former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

“He is a fantastic player from his era to now and it’s a precious moment to share a dressing room with him,” Lamichhane said of the batting great.

‘A new era’ 

The teenager, also trained at Michael Clarke’s cricket academy in Sydney after he was spotted by the former Australian skipper at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz tournament in 2016.

The same year, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) was suspended by the ICC because of political interference by the Himalayan nation’s government.

Lamichhane is hopeful that his IPL stint will be the start of a new era for Nepal’s cricketers.

“We were nowhere in cricket in the last two years but after getting ODI status recently we are getting lots of opportunities,” he said.

“I think the IPL is a great opportunity for me and it will help grow our cricket back home.

“We want to remain an ODI nation and we want to play Test cricket as well.”

Lamichhane added that exposure at the game’s highest level will help bridge the gap between players from associate nations and cricket’s powerhouses.

At Delhi, he will be joined by Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, New Zealand pace-man Trent Boult and South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada.

“Some of the balls which can’t be hit by associate players, top players can smash them anywhere,” Lamichhane said.

“The difference is experience, we don’t get to play those big games. We don’t get that kind of exposure.”

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