Sandeep Lamichhane set to join Nepal squad in Dubai after travel ban lifted

Leg-spinner to fly in for remainder of Cricket World Cup League 2 tri-series involving UAE and Papua New Guinea

Sandeep Lamichhane has been added to Nepal's Cricket World Cup League 2 squad. AFP
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The Cricket Association of Nepal have announced Sandeep Lamichhane is set to be added to their Cricket World Cup League 2 squad in Dubai.

On Monday, the country’s Supreme Court lifted the travel ban imposed on the former Nepal captain, who is facing charges of rape but has been released from custody on bail.

Last week, the court refused Lamichhane’s request to travel to play in the series, involving the UAE and Papua New Guinea in Dubai. However, a subsequent ruling was made in his favour, clearing him to travel.

While his petition was being heard, his teammates were already in action in the first match of the series at Dubai International Stadium. In his absence, they claimed a four-wicket win over Papua New Guinea.

It means they have won five matches in a row over the past two weeks, reviving their chances of pipping Namibia – as well as the UAE – to the third automatic berth available for the next phase of World Cup qualifying.

Lamichhane had been part of the side for the previous four games – two wins apiece against Scotland and Namibia – but was not named in the tour party to travel to Dubai, given his bail conditions.

Nepal named a 15-man squad for the series, which is one more player than either the UAE or PNG. But in order for him to be added to the squad, it would require the ICC’s technical committee to rule on his eligibility as an injury replacement.

On Wednesday, CAN stated: “Sandeep Lamichhane will be travelling to the UAE to join Team Nepal as a replacement for injured Shyam [Mousam] Dhakal, who was injured during net practice.

“Mousam suffered a shoulder injury while batting in the net practice session on [Tuesday].”

When the UAE played a series in Nepal in November, Lamichhane was in custody in Kathmandu’s central prison. He was released on bail in January, and returned to the playing field this month.

It coincided with an upswing in fortunes on the field in Nepal. While they were putting together a run of four wins in a row, Namibia lost five of their remaining six matches in League 2.

It means the UAE and Nepal can each now beat Namibia to third place, which carries with it direct progress to the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in June. That competition will decide the final two sides to play at the main event in India later this year.

Nepal face the UAE in the third match of the tri-series on Thursday.

Updated: March 01, 2023, 2:31 PM