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Updated: May 26, 2023

Aakash Madhwal: IPL's Unsung Hero Defies Expectations with Passion and Perseverance

Aakash Madhwal's success, with 13 wickets at an average of 12.48 in the toughest franchise league, goes beyond passion alone. His talent, nurturing, and the backing of Mumbai Indians amplify his impressive achievements.

Aakash Madhwal

Akash Madhwal equalled the IPL record for the most economical five-wicket haul.

Akash Madhwal's remarkable display in the IPL 2023 Eliminator earned him his first IPL Player of the Match accolade. The game took place at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on a pleasant Wednesday evening. Hailing from Roorkee, Uttarakhand, the 29-year-old delivered a sensational performance, capturing an extraordinary 5/5 in just 3.3 overs. These figures not only set a new record for the best-ever performance in an IPL playoff but also rank as the fifth-best figures in IPL history.

Now, where does 'Passion' fit into this story?

Madhwal has a lot of passion, as evidenced by his impassioned responses during the post-match presentation with Harsha Bhogle and the ensuing press conference.

"I made cricket my passion and worked hard, and now I'm here," Madhwal said to Bhogle. "I followed my passion, and when you enjoy your passion, you are chill (ed out)," he added later at the press conference.

Passion for Cricket Ignites Madhwal's Journey

Once renowned for his exceptional skills as a tennis ball yorker specialist in his home state, Madhwal embarked on a remarkable path when he decided to participate in trials organized by the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand. This bold move came after the association attained affiliate status in 2018. Determined to follow his passion, Madhwal took a significant risk by leaving his engineering job behind, fully aware of the gamble he was making with his life.

Even though he didn't get off to the best of starts, he rapidly caught on. He is, after all, an engineer.

"We engineers tend to pick up things quickly," Madhwal would remark to engineer-turned-broadcaster Bhogle.

Aakash Madhwal: IPL's

Rising Talent Takes the Stage

Mumbai Indians (MI) has established a reputation for their exceptional scouting abilities, with Jasprit Bumrah standing as a shining testament to their expertise. Throughout the years, MI's talent scouts have successfully unearthed promising players from all corners of the country. Among them is Madhwal, who initially experienced the IPL as a net bowler with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2019. The following year, he made his way into the MI setup, marking a significant step in his burgeoning career.

"The Scouting team chose me as a net bowler in the setup, and they give you chances in practise matches and you have to perform and show your potential, and the team is also observing you, and when you get the chance, you have to take it," Madhwal explains.

Madhwal's Advantage: Mastering the Art of Consistent Yorkers

One of Madhwal's key strengths lies in his remarkable talent for consistently delivering yorkers. This particular skill is notoriously challenging to master, requiring precision and an almost negligible margin of error. Madhwal's exceptional ability in executing yorkers worked heavily in his favor, providing him with a significant advantage on the cricket field.

“Tennis ball se sirf yorker seekha, wohi implement karta hun. Ek hi ball hota bachne ka; agar upar neeche padega toh six hi lagta hai – wohi chahiye hota hai tennis ball aur wohi mein yaha kar raha hun (I have only learned to bowl yorkers with a tennis ball, and that is what I implement. There is only one chance to survive; if it goes up or down, it will result in a six – that’s what tennis ball requires, and that’s what I am doing here)”.

Confidence Boost: Promising Assurance

Following his impressive performance as a net bowler, Madhwal's progress took a significant leap forward. In 2022, he earned a spot in the MI squad as a replacement for the injured Suryakumar Yadav, albeit without getting the opportunity to play in any games with just two matches remaining in the season. However, he received a valuable assurance that he would be included in the team's plans for the following year. This assurance provided Madhwal with a much-needed boost of confidence, solidifying his belief in a brighter future within the MI setup. 

"Last year, for the last two matches, I came in as a replacement for Surya bhai when he got injured, but I got a clear message that next year I will get the chance, this was told to me," Madhwal adds of the management's assurance.

Aakash Madhwal Rohit

The Final Puzzle Piece: Seizing the Opportunity

With the unfortunate absence of Bumrah in the 2023 season, Mumbai Indians (MI) found themselves in need of a suitable replacement to fill the shoes of the seasoned bowler and maintain a strong hold on the latter stages of the innings.

However, it wasn't until MI's eighth game that Madhwal finally received his debut cap. Prior to his inclusion, the five-time champions had experimented with two uncapped left-arm pacers, Arshad Khan and Arjun Tendulkar, in the first seven matches. Unfortunately, Madhwal's initial performances were rather average, conceding runs at a rate of over 11 runs per over in two of those games and only managing to secure a single wicket. Subsequently, despite being a part of the playing XI for those matches, Madhwal found himself relegated to the substitute role for the Impact Player.

Nonetheless, Madhwal remained determined and eagerly awaited another opportunity to showcase his skills.

Seizing the Moment: Madhwal's Spectacular Performances

On May 3, during the crucial match against the Gujarat Titans, the opportunity that Madhwal had been eagerly waiting for finally arrived. As an Impact Player, he made a significant impact, returning exceptional figures of 3/37. His crucial contributions helped Mumbai Indians secure a victory, as he dismissed formidable players such as Wriddhiman Saha, Shubman Gill, and David Miller.

In another high-stakes game against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Madhwal once again stepped up to the challenge. Displaying his remarkable skills, he claimed an impressive 4/37, which included a remarkable spell of 10 balls, resulting in three wickets and conceding a mere six runs. Madhwal's ability to consistently execute yorkers earned him considerable praise from all quarters.

A Star Rises: Madhwal's Unforgettable Show

On a momentous Wednesday, the talented fast bowler showcased a performance that will be remembered for a lifetime. With an awe-inspiring spell, Madhwal dismantled the core of the Lucknow Super Giants' batting lineup, leaving them in tatters. His exceptional figures of 3.3-0-5-5 highlighted his mastery, not only in executing yorkers flawlessly but also in earning the unwavering trust of Rohit Sharma, who designated him as his go-to bowler. Madhwal's versatility shone through as he seamlessly operated with the new ball, in the middle overs, and during the critical moments at the death. A star was truly born in that unforgettable display.

"My strength was my yorkers, and as captain, Rohit bhaiya used me where it was needed for the team. In the nets, I bowled well with the new ball and took wickets in practice matches, and he started entrusting me with the new ball and wherever he had the confidence to use, and I (have) proved it to him," Madhwal said of his captain's support.

However, the job is not yet finished, and Madhwal is certain that his side will win its sixth championship. Also, he is not planning too far ahead. Bhogle tried to entice him with parallels to Bumrah, but he didn't go for it and said, "Responsibility (death bowling) to hai, the team has given me, not that I can take Bumrah's spot, but I am trying to do my best."

"Bumrah bhai, apni jagah, mein apni jagah hu, sir"

Madhwal possesses the drive, talent, and resources... But, more crucially, he has humility - and it's likely that all of these factors will propel him further than desire alone could!


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