IPL 2023: This engineer was playing tennis ball cricket until 2019. Now he has become Mumbai Indians' trump card

Did you know? Akash Madhwal equalled a record set by the legendary Anil Kumble


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Mumbai Indians' Akash Madhwal celebrates the wicket of Lucknow Super Giants' Krishnappa Gowtham. — AFP
Mumbai Indians' Akash Madhwal celebrates the wicket of Lucknow Super Giants' Krishnappa Gowtham. — AFP

Published: Thu 25 May 2023, 3:49 PM

Nobody expected Akash Madhwal, an engineering graduate and a late bloomer in the sport who was playing tennis ball cricket until 2019, to grab the spotlight in the 2023 edition of the Indian Premier League.

But the 29-year-old pace bowler did just that and more on an unforgettable Wednesday night in Chennai.

With a stunning five-wicket spell (3.3-0-5-5) Madhwal destroyed the Lucknow Super Giants batting unit and helped the Mumbai Indians win by 81 runs to set up a clash in the Qualifier 2 against Gujarat Titans on Friday.

The winner of that clash will play Chennai Super Kings in Sunday's final.

The road to Qualifier 2 would not have been so smooth for Mumbai if Madhwal had not bowled the spell of his life.

Having spent the entire IPL season without getting to play a single game last year, Madhwal saw a window of opportunity when the Mumbai pace attack was hit by multiple injury setbacks.

After a wicketless first game against the Punjab Kings on May 3, Madhwal has now taken 13 wickets in his last six games for the Mumbai Indians.

On Wednesday, he delivered his second straight outstanding performance in Mumbai's second straight make-or-break game in the tournament.

The unassuming player also took four wickets for 37 in the last league match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad to help Mumbai reach the playoffs.

It's a fairytale start in the IPL for a player who had not played with the red ball until 2019.

It was only four years ago that Madhwal started bowling with the red ball after his talent was discovered by Wasim Jaffer, the former India opening batsman.

Few months later Madhwal made his first class debut for Uttarakhand and now he has become the first player from his state to play in the IPL.

On Wednesday night, Madhwal also equalled legendary spinner Anil Kumble's record for least runs conceded for a five-wicket haul in the IPL.

Madhwal credits his engineering background for his meteoric rise in cricket.

"I did my engineering, and played tennis-ball cricket since it was my passion. Engineers have a tendency to learn early," he said after the match on Wednesday.

"I just practice, and that is what we execute. I'm proud of myself, but I'll try to be better. (Jasprit) Bumrah bhai has his own place, and I'm just trying to play role."

Skipper Rohit Sharma also heaped high praise on the pacer bowler.

"Akash Madhwal was part of the season last year. He didn't get to play. We knew what he had, and we needed somebody to bowl at the back end. Having seen him, I was confident he could get the job done for us," Rohit said.

Rohit will now be hoping that Madhwal will do the job for his team again on Friday when the five-time champion takes on defending champion Gujarat Titans for a place in Sunday's final.


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