Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane has joined Melbourne Stars for the upcoming Big Bash League season. The 18-year-old will play for them in two stints: he will join the squad by December 10 before leaving to play the full season of the Bangladesh Premier League on January 5, and then will return to Australia for the remaining BBL games.
In January, Lamichhane made history by becoming the first Nepal cricketer to feature in the IPL when he was signed by Delhi Daredevils. Soon after, he was a well-sought entity in T20 leagues around the world, landing a contract in the CPL, the Global T20 Canada, the BPL and now the BBL. Lamichhane, however, has experience of playing grade cricket in Australia in 2016, when he was mentored by Michael Clarke.
The Pakistan fast-bowling great Waqar Younis has monitored Lamichhane's progress closely. Waqar now coaches Sylhet Sixers, and the team recently signed up Lamichhane for the upcoming season of the BPL.
"I am always for youngsters and good legspinners are a great wicket-taking option," Waqar told ESPNcricinfo. "When I saw Sandeep in early 2017 I knew I wanted to give him a chance. We even called him for Sylhet Sixers in BPL 2017. However, he could not come because of his national duty.
"He is quite special and unique. He has skills, grit, determination and a hunger to make a difference. This makes him a complete package."
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan, who played in BBL 2017, had played after his country had Full Member status. This year, Rashid will be joined in the BBL by his countryman Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who was signed by Brisbane Heat last week.
Lamichhane first came to the limelight at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, where he was the second highest wicket-taker with 14 scalps in six games.
Earlier this year, Lamichhane took 13 wickets in the ICC World Cup Qualifier, playing a pivotal role in helping Nepal gain ODI status for the first time. He was also named in the World XI squad that faced West Indies at Lord's on May 31, in the Hurricane Relief T20 Challenge match.