Hong Kong T20 Blitz

Can Hong Kong players make it in the IPL? Ex-Kowloon Cantons spinner Sandeep offers hope

The 17-year-old is picked up by Delhi Daredevils, two years after playing in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 10:42pm

The owners of the Blitz franchise that signed Nepali teen spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane in 2016 are hoping Hong Kong players can follow in his footsteps and one day play in the Indian Premier League.

In May, 2016, 15-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane had his international T20 breakthrough when he lined up for Kowloon Cantons in the inaugural Hong Kong T20 Blitz.

Two years later, Lamichhane has come of age after being picked by Delhi Daredevils for the IPL – the world’s most prestigious and richest T20 tournament.

Lamichhane, the second highest wicket-taker at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup with 14, became the first Nepalese to be selected by an IPL side after the Daredevils snapped him up for the equivalent of HK$246,000 at the weekend’s auction.

While Lamichhane was picked up, some of the biggest names in cricket were not, with both England captain Joe Root and South African star Hashim Amla left unsold at the IPL auction.

Cantons CEO Urvashi Sethi-Sodhi hopes Lamichhane’s success helps pave the way for more players from associate nations to play in major T20 tournaments such as the IPL.

“Kowloon Cantons are thrilled for Sandeep on his pick at the IPL and we wish him all the very best for the future,” said Sethi-Sodhi.

“We saw immense potential in him in 2016 and that is why he was picked up to play with our team alongside Michael Clarke.

“We are proud of what he has achieved and this gives us great hope that one day one of our Hong Kong boys will be in the contention as well. This is the belief for which we set up Kowloon Cantons, to promote cricket and budding cricketers.”

Hong Kong players have made a name for themselves abroad thanks to strong performances at international events such as ICC T20 qualifiers and various leagues around the world.

Babar Hayat and Anshuman Rath played at last year’s Everest Premier League in Nepal while Nizakat Khan is a recognised T20 batsman for centuries he made at the Blitz and against Big Bash side Sydney Thunder during a tour of Australia in late 2016.

Hong Kong coach Simon Cook said T20 provides the ideal platform for Hong Kong players to showcase their skills in a global tournament.

“The good news is that more associate players are getting the opportunity to play,” said Cook. “The main driver is that teams are looking at the trends that impact players have. If you can take wickets during the middle of a T20 you are more likely to win games.

“These wickets are being taken by wrist or mystery spinners in general so any player of this type are starting to be viewed with interest by all teams and especially ones that would represent good value which Sandeep is certainly one.

“Hong Kong has some very talented players in particular in T20. There is a really good chance that Hong Kong players will start playing franchise cricket over the next 18 months which we would encourage. Babar and Anshuman have already played in a couple of tournaments and will be looking to play in more going forward.”