Rape-accused cricketer Lamichhane back on Nepal squad

KATHMANDU (AFP): Star Nepalese cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane, who is free on bail while facing rape charges, will take the pitch at the upcoming World Cup League 2 tri-series, Cricket Nepal has announced.

Lamichhane is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in a Kathmandu hotel room last August.

The Cricket Association of Nepal revealed the 22-year-old’s inclusion on the squad for the February 14-21 home series against Namibia and Scotland in a post on its official Twitter account.

The decision was widely expected after the body lifted the star spin-bowler’s suspension earlier this month.

“The board had taken disciplinary action against him and suspended him. The new decision to lift the suspension will allow him to play games,” Cricket Association of Nepal president Chatur Bahadur Chand told AFP on February 1.

A day earlier, Nepal’s attorney general had appealed the decision to free Lamichhane on a bond of two million rupees ($15,400). He had been in custody since his October 6 arrest at Kathmandu airport.

“We have asked the Supreme Court to overturn the high court’s decision to release him on bail,” Sanjiv Raj Regmi, a spokesman at the Office of the Attorney General, told AFP at the time.

“An accused of any criminal offence that could lead to the prison term of more than three years must stay in custody.”

Lamichhane had been a poster boy for the rise of cricket in Nepal, which gained one-day international status in 2018.

His big break came when he was snapped up by the Delhi Capitals for the money-spinning Indian Premier League in 2018, and he has since been Nepal’s most sought-after cricketer.

Authorities issued an arrest warrant against him in September while he was away playing in the Caribbean Premier League.

Lamichhane, who has maintained his innocence, was suspended as Nepal’s cricket captain after the arrest warrant was issued.