Nepal's teenage legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane played a central role in a history-making day at Tribhuvan University Stadium on Wednesday morning, turning in the second-best ever figures by an Associate bowler in ODIs. His career-best 6 for 16 in just six overs helped Nepal bowl USA out for just 35. It was the joint-lowest total in ODIs and the shortest completed innings in ODI cricket, wrapped up in just 12 overs.
"It's a fantastic feeling to be on that list [of best figures in ODI cricket]," Lamichhane said after the match that lasted less than two hours. "But if you talk about 6 for 16, it's for the team and the team is important for us. Two wins out of four [matches], still 32 games to go [in the World Cup League 2] and beating the top team in the league so far, I think it's a positive sign for us."
USA had entered the ODI tri-series in Nepal - that also includes Oman - as the table leaders in the seven-team WCL 2 tournament that continues until 2022. But the USA team leaves Kathmandu licking their wounds with four consecutive losses. Oman won their four matches to jump over USA to be at the top of the table.
It also continues a historic trend of Nepal spinners having tremendous success against USA. On USA's last visit to Nepal in 2010 for the WCL Division 5, teenage left-arm spinner Rahul Vishwakarma took 7 for 15 to lead a win for Nepal in the tournament final. Left-arm spinner Basant Regmi also took back-to-back five-wicket hauls against USA in twin victories at 2012 WCL Division 4 in Malaysia. However, none of those tournaments had ODI status as they were played long before both nations attained their current ODI status.
Among Associate players, Lamichhane's figures are behind only Rashid Khan's 7 for 18 against West Indies, just weeks before Afghanistan were granted Test status. Lamichhane jokingly responded at the post-match press conference that Rashid is "a Test player now, so forget that! Number One!" as he pointed to himself, sparking laughter from the assembled media.
Lamichhane's performance was also noteworthy because he did it with the new ball after Nepal chose to field first. The spinner has had a regular habit of bowling in the powerplay in franchise T20 cricket and said his experiences in various competitions bowling with a hard new ball helped him in his record performance in what was the shorted completed ODI in history, lasting a total of 17.2 overs.
"I've been bowling for the last two years with the new ball. So I've got that experience how to give that rip with the new ball. It's all about the backing you get from the captain as well and the kind of response he is giving to my bowling as well. So the belief and trust from the captain, that was the thing that helped me to perform like that today."