Akash Madhwal, who stepped up as a replacement for the injured Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer, has emerged as the unexpected bowling star for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2023 season. With his extraordinary performances, Madhwal has quickly become known as a timely "replacement" for the team.
In the eliminator match against Lucknow Super Giants at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Madhwal delivered a sensational five-wicket haul (5-5), leading the Mumbai Indians to an 81-run victory and securing their spot in Qualifier 2. Just a few days ago, he had guided the team to the playoffs with a crucial four-wicket haul in the must-win league encounter against the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Wankhede Stadium.
While Madhwal has been compared to the experienced bowlers he replaced, he humbly downplayed the comparison, stating, "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." He expressed his dedication during the post-match presentation after the victory against Lucknow Super Giants.
Despite the challenging conditions for pacers on the Chennai pitch, Madhwal showcased his skills and made his mark. "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 explained.
Madhwal's journey with the Mumbai Indians began in 2022 when he was signed as a replacement for the injured Suryakumar Yadav. Although he didn't make his debut that year, he continued to train with the team and his efforts earned him a spot in the team for the 2023 campaign.
Reflecting on his opportunities and retention by MI, the 29-year-old pacer said, "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."
Madhwal's entry into professional cricket happened only five years ago, having previously played tennis-ball cricket in his home state of Uttarakhand. When asked about the tactics he carries from tennis-ball cricket to T20 cricket with a proper cricket ball, he mentioned his mastery of bowling yorkers. He explained, "Through the tennis ball, I have only learned how to bowl yorkers, and I use that in my bowling today. There is only one way of evading those deliveries."
Talking about his meteoric rise, Madhwal highlighted his association with the Uttarakhand Cricket Association since their affiliation with the BCCI in 2018. He worked as a net bowler for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2019 and later joined the Mumbai Indians. Today, he is grateful for the opportunity to play in the team.
Next, the Mumbai Indians will face the Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 2 on May 26, competing for a place in the final against the Chennai Super Kings. Madhwal's impressive performances have undoubtedly boosted the team's confidence as they aim to secure their spot in the title clash.