IPL 2023: Who is Akash Madhwal, Mumbai Indians' five-for-five man?

Akash Madhwal is this year's star performer for the Mumbai Indians as his five-wicket haul ended the Lucknow Super Giants' journey in the IPL 2023

Akash Madhwal (Photo: Twitter: @mipaltan)
Akash Madhwal (Photo: Twitter: @mipaltan)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Who is Akash Madhwal? The unheralded Mumbai Indians' (MI) paceman’s name must be sweeping the google search now after his dream haul of 5-5 broke the back of the Lucknow Super Giants’ chase and propelled the five-time champions to the second qualifier on Friday. The MI now run into previous season's champions, the Gujarat Titans, for a berth in the final in Ahmedabad on Friday.

A figure of 3.3-0-5-5 after sharing the new ball with Jason Behrendorff looks simply incredulous – pitchforking him to fifth spot in the list of all-time best bowling hauls in the Indian Premier League (IPL) history. He is now in good company with the legendary Anil Kumble in fourth position with a similar haul for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in 2009 (but from fewer balls, 3.1 overs), while the West Indian quick, Alzarri Joseph’s 6/12 for the MI against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2019 topping the list.

Sitting in second position is Sohail Tanvir’s 6/14 for the Royals against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in 2008 with Adam Zampa third at six for 19 (for the now defunct Rising Pune Supergiant vs SRH in 2019). Not bad for the 29-year-old, a qualified engineer who started his practice with red ball barely four years back.

‘’Welcome to 5-5 club,’’ tweeted Kumble as the Uttarakhand cricketer turned out to be yet another story of living upto the underlying theme of the IPL inscribed on the winners’ trophy in Sanskrit– ‘where talent meets opportunity.’ It’s difficult to predict if Madhwal, the scenic state’s first export to the IPL (Rishabh Pant also hails from there but represents Delhi in domestic cricket) can ever replicate such an act but for now, he is the toast of the IPL with the first-ever fifer in the play-offs.

‘’While my strength lies in yorkers, Rohit bhai backed me up to share the new ball. He has a way of getting the best out of newcomers and helps you stay chilled,’’ Madhwal said after the match.          

There is an interesting backstory about how he got a grip over the deadly yorkers – it was his years of playing tennis ball cricket which helped him to develop control over the difficult delivery. ‘’The yorkers were the only weapon which would work in that kind of cricket as anything pitched up or short would go for a six,’’ he said with a smile.

It was in 2019 when Madhwal grabbed the attention of the then Uttarakhand coach Wasim Jaffer, who goaded him to practising with red ball cricket. The scouts of the RCB drafted him as a net bowler the same season and the strapping right arm seamer started showing his potential with his pace and movement off the wicket.

Last season, the MI picked him as a replacement for Suryakumar Yadav after the latter’s injury for last few games but Madhwal knew he would have to wait for his turn. Replying to a query from the media, he said that in the absence of their attacking lynchpin Jasprit Bumrah and then Jofra Archer with injuries, the back-up seam bowlers in the squad had to share the responsibility.

It’s his passion for the sport which drove Madhwal till here while he admitted that being appointed the captain of his state’s white ball team this season also helped him in his growth as a cricketer. ‘’Previously, I would look at a game just from a bowler’s point of view but now, I try to assess the overall game situation and deliver accordingly,’’ added Madhwal, who has 13 wickets from seven games so far!

Friday’s match (2nd Qualifier)

Gujarat Titans vs Mumbai Indians - Ahmedabad, 7.30 pm

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