Ricky Ponting says he hopes Sandeep Lamichhane has a long and successful Indian Premier League career with Delhi Daredevils.
But the former Australia has defended not using the young leg-spinner until the franchise’s playoff chances were already over.
The Daredevils finished last in the league phase of the 2018 Vivo IPL, even though they won two of their three matches once Lamichhane had been given his belated introduction.
The 17-year-old spin-bowler’s selection for the IPL had been avidly welcomed back in his homeland, after he had become the first Nepal cricketer to be drafted to the competition.
However, he then had to wait through 11 matches, during which time Delhi won just three times, before being handed his debut.
Once he had been introduced, he was a revelation. He kept superstar batsmen Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers subdued in his first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
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He did similar to MS Dhoni in his second match, and dismissed Suresh Raina, the second highest run-scorer in IPL history, before taking three wickets against outgoing champions Mumbai Indians last time out.
Ponting, the Daredevils coach, reasoned that his side had invested in such high-quality overseas players, it was difficult fitting the Nepalese teenager into the starting XI.
“He has bowled really well in the past three games, but look back to the start of the tournament at what our starting side might have looked like,” Ponting said in the press conference following Sunday’s 11-run win over Mumbai.
“If you put a [Kagiso] Rabada and Chris Morris into that side, with Glenn Maxwell, it is hard to fit Sandeep into the starting XI.
“Morris played the first four or five matches before he went home. We mixed and matched [Liam] Plunkett, Dan Christian and Trent Boult, trying to find the right combination that was going to suit different conditions around the country.
“We always knew Sandeep had the skills. He bowls all day, every day with a smile on his face. He absolutely loves it.
“It is great to see guys like him. We have some really talented youngsters, of which Sandeep is one of them.
“We are looking forward to him having a long and successful IPL career, hopefully the whole time here at the Delhi Daredevils.”