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I am not Jasprit Bumrah’s replacement: Akash Madhwal

Mumbai Indians (MI) pacer Akash Madhwal picked a sensational five-wicket haul to help his side outclass Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) by 81 runs in the eliminator and move into Qualifier 2 of IPL 2023 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday night.

Before the Wednesday’s game, Madwal had led Mumbai to the Playoffs with a four-wicket haul in the must-win last league encounter with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at the Wankhede a couple of days ago.

Earlier, ave pacer Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the IPL 2023 ahead of the tournament due to injury while Jofra Archer had returned home mid-way due to an elbow injury.

When being termed as a replacement for the experienced bowlers — Bumrah & Archer, Madhwal played down the comparison and said: “I am trying my best to fulfil the responsibilities given to me by the team. I am not Bumrah’s replacement but I’m trying my best to do what I can,” Madhwal said in the post-match presentation after Mumbai registered a massive 81-run victory against LSG.

Though the track at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai hasn’t been helpul for pacers however, Madhwal managed to rubberstamp his authority on it.

“The wicket at Chepauk was good. As you saw, the ball was not gripping but skidding. I am a swing/sling bowler, and I pitched my deliveries in hard lengths aiming for wickets,” Madhwal said.

Madhwal, who was signed as a replacement for injured Suryakumar Yadav in 2022, came close to making his MI debut last year however, despite being unused, he kept training with the team in the nets and grabbed the ooportunity with both the hands.

Speaking of opportunities and how he managed to get retained by MI, Madhwal, 29, said: “I was given the clarity of my role with the team. I have to continue the process I was following and had the surety that I would get opportunities next season. That w”s very clear.”

Asked what tactics from tennis-ball cricket he implements while bowling with a proper cricket ball in T20 cricket, he said: “Through the tennis ball, I have only learnt how to bowl yorkers and I use that in my bowling today. There is only one way of evading those deliveries.

“If the bowling lengths are pitched a bit high or low, it would gift away boundary — four or six. Thus, I needed to bowl strong yorkers in tennis cricket and that is what I do today with a proper cricket ball.”

Talking about his meteoric rise, Madhwal said: “I have been with Uttarakhand Cricket Association ever since they got affiliation with the BCCI in 2018. In 2019, I was a net bowler with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Later on, I joined Mumbai Indians and started out as a net bowler again. Fast forward to today, I am getting the opportunity to play in the team.”

Mumbai Indians will next face defending champions Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 2 on May 26 for a place in the final against Chennai Super Kings (CSK).