Mumbai Indians (MI) pacer Akash Madhwal has been excellent for the franchise, especially in the absence of first-choice bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Jofra Archer, and Jhye Richardson, all of whom either missed the entire IPL 2023, or part of it due to injury.
Madhwal stepped up beautifully in their absence and after taking a four-fer in a crunch match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Uttarakhand pacer produced his best in the Eliminator match against the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG).
He picked 5/5, as LSG collapsed to 101 chasing a target of 183 in the Eliminator on Wednesday.
Madhwal, who also is a yorker expert like Bumrah, was awarded the Player of the Match for his five-wicket haul. After the game, the 29-year-old pacer spoke about his role in the team and why he is not a replacement for Bumrah.
“I am trying my best to fulfill the responsibilities given to me by the team. I am not Bumrah’s replacement but I’m trying my best to do what I can. The wicket at Chepauk was good. As you saw, the ball was not gripping but skidding. I am a swing/sling bowler, and I pitched my deliveries in hard lengths aiming for wickets,” Madhwal said in the press conference after the match.
A tennis ball player, Madhwal started playing professional cricket only five years back and is now using their previous learning to perform well as a bowler in IPL.
“Through the tennis ball, I have only learnt how to bowl yorkers and I use that in my bowling today. There is only one way of evading those deliveries. If the bowling lengths are pitched a bit high or low, it would gift away boundary fours or sixes. Thus, I needed to bowl strong yorkers in tennis cricket and that is what I do today with a proper cricket ball,” he added.
Talking about his meteoric rise, Madhwal said: “I have been with Uttarakhand Cricket Association ever since they got affiliation with the BCCI in 2018. In 2019, I was a net bowler with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Later on, I joined Mumbai Indians and started as a net bowler again. Fast forward to today, I am getting the opportunity to play in the team.”
He joined Mumbai Indians in 2022 as a replacement for the injured Suryakumar Yadav however he didn’t get to play a match. His debut only came in 2023. Madhwal shared how he managed to get retained by Mumbai.
“I was given the clarity of my role with the team. I have to continue the process I was following and had the surety that I would get opportunities next season. That was very clear,” he signed off.