“The team environment is excellent, everyone is very supportive”: Akash Madhwal

By Mumbai Indians

Our first home of IPL 2024 didn’t go as per plan, with the MUM-boys conceding a six-wicket loss in a low-scoring affair at the Wankhede Stadium against Rajasthan Royals on Monday (April 1, 2024). 

However, the takeaways from this fixture included Hardik Pandya’s vital contribution with the bat as he counter-attacked in style to get the team out of trouble, Tilak Varma’s solid partnership, and of course, Akash Madhwal's super return with the ball.

Fresh from registering a haul of 3/20 in his first competitive outing of the season, the Uttarakhand star spoke to the media at the post-match press conference, addressing his thoughts on the game, the team environment, and his return to the MI Blue and Gold at the Wankhede.

“We must play first for the team rather than for individual reasons. The combinations for the first two games were good in their own right, as world-class bowlers constantly compete for a place in the team,” he said on sitting out of the playing XI in the first two games.

Mumbai Indians were put to bat first, and the RR bowlers reduced our run-scoring prowess, resulting in a score of 125/9 in 20 overs. What was the dressing room reaction? Was there a sense of panic? No. It was just about trying to deal early damage with the ball, says Madhwal.

“The first discussion during the innings break was that we would have to grab as many early wickets as possible to put pressure on the opponent. Even in the strategic timeout, we discussed sticking to the plan and taking 2-3 wickets to gain the upper hand.”

Bowling at the Wankhede Stadium has been a gigantic and meticulous challenge. Given how Trent Boult performed in the first innings, how did he feel while bowling in the second innings?

“The way the wicket was, we had to get the basics right. We had to bowl wicket-to-wicket. What we had planned, all of our bowlers followed it. We had planned to get the basics right and bowl wicket-to-wicket because the pitch also helped fast bowlers,”  he said.

Despite three losses, the team environment, he asserted, was still very upbeat. It’s an MI thing to never lose hope. With the memories of the 2015 campaign still fresh in our heads, there’s no reason to. And Madhwal too wasn’t too stressed, and credited the senior members in the side for his success.

“The team environment is excellent. Both (Rohit and Hardik) are supportive, and I spoke to Hardik and Rohit in the practice match. Bumrah bhai was also there. We should do better in the coming games.”

Paltan, you know how these setbacks are just a litmus test for the team. The Class of 2024 is brimming with potential and confidence and raring to make a strong comeback in their form guide with our upcoming game over the weekend. But note this: It is a special game. It is ESA Day. Let’s get tighter and double our support, as we move on from tonight’s result and target a win in front of 33,000 kids. Oh, it’s going to be loud!