Teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane could boost the sagging fortunes of Nepal's scandal-tainted domestic cricket with his breakthrough deal to become part of the Indian Premier League (IPL), officials said on Monday.
Lamichhane, 17, made history on Sunday becoming the first cricketer from Nepal to land an IPL contract when he was picked by the Delhi Daredevils for $31,466 (Dh115,580) during a player auction ahead of the Twenty20 tournament, which starts in April.
"Sandeep has created history for Nepal and has sent out a positive message about Nepali cricket," Chumbi Lama of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) told AFP.
"He has also opened doors for other Nepali players to make a mark internationally."
Lamichhane's entry into the cash-rich league comes on the heels of weekend meetings between the International Cricket Council (ICC) and CAN about ending Nepal's two-year suspension from the global governing body.
"We have had series of meetings with ICC and are hopeful for a reinstatement," Lama said.
The ICC banned CAN in April 2016 over political interference in the running of the domestic governing body, but continued to allow Nepal's national teams to participate in top events.
The ICC has been working with CAN to draft a new constitution, but negotiations hit a roadblock after the Nepal side refused to adopt the proposed text.
"It is concerning that CAN did not adopt the constitution as proposed," said ICC deputy chairman Imran Khwaja ahead of the weekend negotiations in Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
"In addition to this there remains a number of other reinstatement conditions outstanding that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency."
Lamichhane is currently training in Dubai with Nepal's national team ahead of the Division Two of the World Cricket League in Namibia next month.
Nepal needs to finish in the top two to take part in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in March. Nepal has never qualified for the World Cup.
"I am worried that the dispute over the Cricket Association of Nepal has been affecting the development of cricket in Nepal and players' career enhancement," said Nepal's former national skipper and one-time mentor to Lamichhane, Raju Khadka.
"The IPL opportunity for Sandeep could help cricket in Nepal overall in addition to his career. Now various countries and teams will notice other players of the country."