Cricket Nepal remain hopeful of including Sandeep Lamichhane

Nepal reaffirmed their ongoing efforts to incorporate the contentious talent Sandeep Lamichhane into their T20 World Cup lineup on Thursday, despite encountering hurdles with his US visa application.

His country remain optimistic of being able to include him in their squad for the upcoming tournament. The 23-year-old saw a previous conviction for assaulting an 18-year-old woman in December 2023 overturned last week.

Initially excluded from Nepal's 15-member squad for the upcoming tournament, set to take place across the United States and the Caribbean, he was reportedly on the verge of being included in their roster.

Lamichhane, once Nepal's captain and their most prominent player, faced a setback in 2019 when his visa application for the US was declined. This occurred during his scheduled participation in the Caribbean Premier League.

"And the US Embassy did it again, what they did back in 2019," Lamichhane said on X, formerly known as Twitter. "They denied my visa for the T20 World Cup happening in USA and West Indies. Unfortunate. I am sorry to all the well wishers of Nepal Cricket."

Chatur Bahadur Chand, president of Nepal's Cricket Association, told AFP on Thursday, that they were "trying to see if we can still make it possible for him to join".

In September 2022, Lamichhane faced suspension as Nepal's captain amid rape allegations. His re-entry into the Nepal side in February 2023 for matches against Scotland and Namibia, following his release on bail, stirred controversy. His comeback sparked protests, with players from both opposing teams declining to shake his hand.

Lamichhane played a significant role in Nepal's ascent, becoming the most coveted Nepali cricketer in lucrative T20 leagues globally. His breakthrough moment arrived when he was recruited for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the wealthiest cricket tournament worldwide, in 2018.

Nepal is set for their second appearance in the T20 World Cup, kicking off against the Netherlands in Dallas on 4 June. Following this opener, they will engage in group matches against South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.