'Once Jofra was gone, we knew...': Rohit Sharma reveals how he unearthed MI's new gem in IPL 2023
IPL 2023: Speaking after MI's win vs LSG in the Eliminator, Rohit Sharma hailed a teammate for his performance and also praised his team's scouting department.
After a shaky start to their IPL 2023 campaign where they crashed to back-to-back defeats vs Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians qualified for the playoffs in stunning manner. In the final day of the league phase, Mumbai had to defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad, but also needed Royal Challengers Bangalore to lose against defending champions Gujarat Titans. The Rohit Sharma-led side defeated SRH by eight wickets in the first match of the day, but had to wait until close to midnight, when RCB crashed to a defeat against GT.
MI's progression into the playoffs shocked many fans and experts. They once again stunned fans with a victory in the Eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants, and will face GT in Qualifier 2 for a berth in the final.
Also Read | Who is Akash Madhwal? MI’s newest pace sensation whose record 5/5 crushed LSG in IPL 2023 Eliminator
Defending a target of 183 runs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday, MI bowled out LSG for 101 with ease in 16.3 overs, courtesy of heroics from Akash Madhwal. The 29-year-old has lately become Rohit's trump card this season and he justified his captain's trust with a fantastic performance. The pacer bagged five wickets in 3.3 overs and conceded only five runs.
He accounted for the key dismissals of opener Prerak Mankad (3), Ayush Badoni (1), Nicholas Pooran (0), Ravi Bishnoi (3) and Mohsin Khan (0). Initially, MI posted 182/8 in 20 overs, courtesy of quickfire knocks from Cameron Green and Suryakumar Yadav. Green smacked 41 runs off 23 deliveries and Suryakumar hammered 33 runs off 20 balls.
Speaking after the match, Rohit was full of praise for Madhwal. The swashbuckling batter was asked about Madhwal and MI's scouting team for discovering players like the bowler. "Akash Madhwal was part of the season last year as a support bowler but we drafted him into the squad last year. He didn't get to play. We knew what he had. Once Jofra was gone, we knew we needed somebody to bowl at the back end. Having seen him, I was confident he could get the job done for us. Lot of skills, good attitude, lot of character as well."
"Talking about scouts, we have seen so many guys have gone on to play for India and done well", he further added.
Currently, Madhwal is MI's third-highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets in seven matches. He is behind Jason Behrendorff (14) and veteran spinner Piyush Chawla (21). Madhwal began his IPL career as a net bowler for RCB in 2019, before MI took him away for the same role. He got some chances in the 2022 season, where MI were in horrible form. But Rohit's trust in the pacer has paid off and he has become one of the surprise packages this season.