Sandeep Lamichhane’s remarkable late run in his debut Indian Premier League campaign reached a spectacular finale as he took three wickets to end Mumbai Indians’ title defence.
The 2017 champions needed to beat Delhi Daredevils in India’s capital in their last league match to maintain their hopes of a play-off place.
They fell 11 runs short of Delhi’s total of 174, though, after being undone by the home side’s leg-spin duo.
Amit Mishra has taken as many hat-tricks – three – in his IPL career to date as Lamichhane has played matches. And yet the experienced India leg-spinner has found a fine foil in the form of the 17 year old from Nepal.
Mishra took 3-19 and his young colleague took 3-36, including the prize scalp of Keiron Pollard, as the holders faltered.
A late cameo from Ben Cutting gave the away side hope of forcing a win that would have taken them to fourth in the table, but their chances were extinguished by Harshal Patel in the final over.
Lamichhane’s first IPL season may have been truncated to just Delhi’s final three matches, by which point his team’s fate had already been sealed.
And yet, despite such a small window of opportunity, he has thrived, winning plaudits from such celebrated counterparts as AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli.
The Daredevils won two of the three matches the teenager played, having lost eight of the 11 before he debuted.
He took five wickets and maintained an economy rate of 6.83, which was among the thriftiest in the competition, in the matches he played.
Read more on Sandeep Lamichhane in IPL 2018:
His success will have been keenly felt by many beyond cricket’s mainstream, and given hope that more associate players could make it to cricket's biggest event in the future, too.
The cricket association in his homeland are still suspended by the International Cricket Council. Nepal’s national team have been given special dispensation by the game’s governing body to carry on playing in international competition, despite their administration being deemed unfit for purpose.
And they, like Lamichhane himself, have enjoyed an unforeseen rise this year, earning one-day international status despite starting in the third-tier of international competition – just as the UAE national team did.