Akash Madhwal: “I didn’t get chances at RCB, then I joined MI”

Mumbai Indians (MI) stormed into the Qualifier 2 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 as they thumped Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) by 81 runs to knock them out and set a monumental clash against Gujarat Titans (GT) on Friday.

MI had faced LSG thrice before the Eliminator and had lost all three games, but they finally broke the jinx when it mattered the most. For a team that was criticised before the season began for their poor auction strategy, they are now one win away from playing their seventh IPL final. Who would’ve thought?

While the win was comprehensive, an unlikely hero emerged for MI last night – Akash Madhwal.

MI captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat first. In their 20 overs, MI managed to post 182 runs on the board, which was considered to be a par score at Chepauk but far from a safe total considering the number of successful run chases this season.

Not just that, MI’s bowling until has looked toothless for the majority of the season. No bowlers barring Jason Behrendorff and Piyush Chawla have crossed the 10-wicket tally this season.

Now, Akash Madhwal joins that list. He picked up five wickets and conceded just five runs in 3.3 overs (yes, his figures were 3.3-0-5-5) as LSG lost their last eight wickets for just 32 runs.

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Akash Madhwal enters IPL record books

Madhwal broke several records after picking up his maiden five-wicket haul.

He became the first bowler in IPL history to pick a fifer in the playoffs. The previous best bowling figures in IPL playoffs was 4-13 by former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) quick Doug Bollinger in a semi-final against Deccan Chargers (now defunct) in 2010.

He also broke Anil Kumble’s 14-year-old record of the most economical five wicket haul by conceding just 1.43 runs per over. Kumble, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) registered figures of 3-1-1-5-5 at an economy rate of 1.57 in a 2009 IPL match against Rajasthan Royals (RR).

Madhwal also set the record for best bowling figures by an uncapped player. The previous best was 5-14 by Ankit Rajpoot while representing Punjab Kings in IPL 2018.

Akash Madhwal recalls his time with RCB 

Speaking to the press after the match, Madhwal reminisced on his initial days as a net bowler for RCB, stating how he did not receive the backing and the support that he has from his current team, MI.

“I was with RCB in 2019 as a net bowler, I didn’t get a chance there. Then I joined MI and got my chances here.”

He also went on to talk about what his strengths are as a bowler.

“Actually my strength is my yorker. Rohit bhai knew what my strength is. As a captain, he used me exactly where the team needed me. Later on, I bowled at the nets with the new ball too. So he then thought I can bowl with the new ball too. In the practice matches, I had done well to take wickets with the new ball. In the places where he felt confidence in me, he gave me the ball. And I proved myself. I’m very chilled out and relaxed and I’m having fun because I’m pursuing my passion. Rohit keeps me calm and chill and backs me. Other than that, I am enjoying my cricket.”

Rohit Sharma was full of praise for Madhwal, who has picked up nine wickets in his last two games to become the unlikely hero of an otherwise weak bowling lineup that doesn’t have either Jofra Archer or Jasprit Bumrah this year.

“Yeah, look he was part of the season last year as a support bowler. We drafted him into the squad last year but [he] didn’t get to play. But we knew what he had. Once Jofra was gone, we knew we needed somebody to bowl at the back end and with him, having seen him enough, I was confident that he can get the job done for us. Has a lot of skills, a good attitude and a lot of character as well. So, that was very pleasing to see about him and talking about the scouts, over so many years we have seen so many guys come through Mumbai Indians and have gone on to play for India and have done well as well. So, a lot of credit to the guys at the back end, sitting behind the scenes and getting the job done for us.”

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Akash Madhwal bowling stats in IPL 2023

Matches Wickets Average Strike Rate Econ. 4-for 5-for Best
7 13 12.85 9.92 7.77 1 1 5-5