Of those 16.3 overs, the 29-year-old Madhwal, a right-arm pacer from Roorkee, delivered 21 balls that not only slowed down Lucknow Super Giants, but dismantled them for 101 as they chased MI’s 182/8.
In those 21 balls, Madhwal delivered five knockout punches. It included the gate of Nicholas Pooran for a golden duck with a dream delivery that headed in and left the lefty long enough to induce a drive and find the lead. Madhwal nearly refused to give away runs in the spell, finishing with figures of 5/5, something almost unimaginable in any game format.
IPL: Mumbai defeat Lucknow in Eliminator, to face Gujarat in Qualifier 2
But it is not the first time that MI has benefited from placing its trust in Madhwal.
Early in the tournament, while in a must-win situation against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Madhwal’s ability to bowl flawless yorkers in death overs helped MI restrict SRH to sub-par scoring. Madhwal’s figures for that game read 4/37, which included the perfect Yorkers he bowled to to claim the wickets of glenn phillips and heinrich claasen.
IPL 2023: Akash Madhwal takes 5/5 as Mumbai Indians knock out Lucknow Super Giants
In a matter of four years, Madhwal’s life has seen a sea change. The ratings engineer became a tennis ball top performer at the age of 23 for a pacer from Uttrakhand and now an IPL hero, as the stage grew bigger for bowling-playing Madhwal. with a heart of a lion.
His life began to change for the better when he appeared for trials organized by the Uttarakhand Cricket Association, when the state gained a BCCI affiliation. Madhwal was 24 years old at the time, and this was his entry point into competitive cricket.
Former India opener Wasim Jaffer was the manager at the time and he picked Madhwal in the state side. But it was only after former Services pacemaker Manish Jha took over as Uttrakhand’s manager that Madhwal began to blossom as a pace bowler.
“He had raw talent with a fickle mind. He tried to throw too many variations because he watched players do it on TV. The first thing we had to do was get him focused,” Jha said during a conversation with TOI earlier. . “I told him to pitch fast and not think about leaking runs. We gave him the assurance that he would play every Vijay Hazare Trophy game.”
Perhaps it was the transition from tennis ball to leather ball that Madhwal was taking a while to get used to.
“He’s an engineer by trade. He picked up the nuances very quickly. He doesn’t have his father and his family wasn’t financially stable. Akash always listened to what he was told and was motivated to succeed.”
However, Jha says that Madhwal’s red ball skills are still a work in progress.
“With the red ball, he hasn’t hit it yet because he needs to calculate the correct length with his balls going out of bounds,” Jha added.
‘ENGINEERS CAN LEARN QUICKLY’
Mumbai Indians next take on the champions Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 2, which will decide who faces MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the final on May 28. CSK had beaten Gujarat by 15 runs in Qualifier 1 to book a place in the title match.
Madhwal will of course be part of GT study material before the big game on Friday.
After MI’s victory on Wednesday, Madhwal shared his sentiments.
“I was practicing and waiting for this opportunity. I studied engineering and played tennis and cricket because it was my passion. Engineers tend to learn fast,” he said with a smile. “I just practice, and that’s what we run. I’m proud of myself, but I’ll try to be better.”
When asked about filling Bumrah’s big shoes, Madhwal said: “Bumrah bhai has his own place, and I’m just trying to play my part. Nicholas Pooran was the best wicket. Everybody at home thinks I’m working hard.”
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