Long before he stunned a star-studded Lucknow Super Giants with a fiery spell in IPL 2023 Eliminator, Mumbai Indians sensation Akash Madhwal had created such an impact in local tennis ball leagues in Roorkee with his fast bowling that he ended up being banned from participating in them.
Madhwal took a record-equaling 5/5 - the most economical five-wicket haul in IPL history - to help five-time champions MI crush LSG by 81 runs and advance to the second qualifier.
“Nobody let him play here," Ashish, Akash’s elder brother, told India Today. “There was a lot of fear of his bowling. So, he was banned from the local tournaments. Darr ka mahoul tha (They feared him). Akash used to go outside of Roorkee and play. But yeah, his tennis ball days are done. He is so, so happy right now."
Ashish feels that MI captain Rohit Sharma has played a key role in Akash’s impressive run in the ongoing IPL wherein in 7 matches, he has taken 13 wickets including nine in his last two games.
“The thing with Rohit bhai is that he gives players chances. He trusts his players and backs them. A new player is always scared for his position in the team. And Rohit has taken away that scare and Akash is delivering now,” Ashish said.
An engineer, Akash continued playing cricket despite having a full-time job and would often get offers to play in local tournaments.
Ashish recalls how Akash was given assurance by Rohit last year that he would soon play for MI after coming in as replacement for the injured Suryakumar Yadav during the fag end of the season.
“When Suryakumar got injured in 2022, with 2-3 matches remaining, MI announced him as a replacement for the batter. That was their way of showing faith in Akash that he would be picked for the IPL 2023 squad. Rohit had told him that he would get a chance to play in the 2023 season,” he said.
Akash, 29, represents Uttarakhand in domestic cricket. He has so far played in 10 first-class matches, 17 List A games and 29 T20s, and taken a combined 67 wickets in them.