There will be no Associate representation in the 2021 IPL for the first time in five years.
Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane and USA’s Ali Khan, who were both signed to franchises for the 2020 edition, both went unsold during Wednesday’s auction. However, there was some good news for emerging nations’ talent as Mujeeb Ur Rahman was sold to Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Fans of Associate cricket will be disappointed at the lack of a contract for Sandeep Lamichhane. The Nepalese leg-spinner made headlines in 2018 as the first player from Nepal to receive an IPL contract, after being picked up by the Delhi Daredevils (now Dehli Capitals). After an excellent debut season, Lamichanne struggled in 2019 and was left on the sidelines for the entirety of the rearranged 2020 season in the UAE. As a result, he was not retained by Dehli and silence filled the auction house when his name was read out.
Lamichhane also went unpicked in the 2021 PSL Draft. However, England’s inaugural The Hundred competition will give him the opportunity to push for his status as one of the world premier T20 leg-spinners. In general, there was little interest for overseas spinners in this year’s IPL auction. England’s Adil Rashid and New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi also failed to attract interest from any of the franchises.
It was a mixed day for the Afghans hopeful of selection. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, previously of the Punjab Kings (formerly Kings XI Punjab) went unsold the first time around, after being the first player from an emerging nation to have his name called. After the break, Sunrisers Hyderabad picked him for his base price of 1.5 crore. The Sunrisers now have a large Afghan contingent, with Mujeeb joining Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi. Qais Ahmed and Naveen-ul-Haq both went unsigned.
Whilst eyebrows may have been raised at the absence of Lamichanne from the bidding wars, there was less surprise at the failure of the other Associate on offer to attract interest. Singapore star Tim David – who was registered as an Australian player – was always going to struggle to find a gig, on a day where Jason Roy and Alex Hales went unsold. The same applied to American Ali Khan, who was released by KKR after missing the 2020 season through injury. Khan, along with UAE leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan, didn’t see his name read out at the auction, despite being shortlisted.
The lack of Associate nations players in this year’s tournament is disappointing. However, the elevation of Afghanistan to Full Membership and a lack of opportunities for Associate players to prove themselves due to COVID-19 wrecking schedules are both major factors. The IPL will expand to ten teams in 2021 and this will see additional opportunities for the likes of Lamichhane, Khan and David to establish themselves in the competition.
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