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West Indies legend Andy Roberts has some advice for Mumbai Indians pacer Alzarri Joseph

In a sensational performance on his Mumbai Indians debut, Joseph stunned high-flyers Sunrisers Hyderabad with a haul of 6/12, bettering Pakistan left-arm Sohail Tanveer’s record of 6/14 set in the inaugural edition.

cricket Updated: Apr 10, 2019 11:28 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
IPL 2019,Andy Roberts,Alzarri Joseph
Mumbai Indian team members lift Alzarri Joseph after winning the match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.(AP)

The tiny Caribbean island of Antigua woke up to exciting news on Saturday that one of their own, Alzarri Joseph, had broken the longest Indian Premier League bowling record.

In a sensational performance on his Mumbai Indians debut, Joseph stunned high-flyers Sunrisers Hyderabad with a haul of 6/12, bettering Pakistan left-arm Sohail Tanveer’s record of 6/14 set in the inaugural edition.

Accomplishing cricket feats used to be a regular matter of pride for Antiguans since 1970s when spearhead Andy Roberts first and then Viv Richards broke into the all-conquering West Indies team. Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson emerged after that, but there’s been a lull for quite some time.

Roberts, the father of West Indies’ fearsome pace attack, though is not given to jumping with excitement. In his typically objective tone, he only had words of caution for the 22-year-old Joseph. “All I am hoping is the young man keeps his feet on the ground. Let me tell you, in T20 cricket you are known by your last performance, that’s what counts.”

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It’s the kind of moment even IPL fans were waiting for. Batsmen from the Caribbean are hogging the limelight in the tournament with brute power, but West Indies cricket was better known for its fast bowling jewels. Not just his wickets, the manner in which the lanky Joseph pinned down the top Sunrisers batsmen stood out.

INTO THE BODY

India all-rounder Vijay Shankar has been in roaring form, but he had no answer on Saturday night as Joseph’s into-the-body stuff gave him no room to open the arms. The result was a throwback to the Ambrose days -- the batsman throwing away his wicket in frustration with a nothing shot.

“He is aggressive. He is about 6’4’’, has the height advantage, so he will get bounce,” was the only praise from Roberts.

Roberts was a 70s phenomenon, but is well-versed in T20 cricket. He was Allen Stanford’s main man when the American (later subjected to several fraud investigations and sentenced to prison) brought T20 cricket to Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean.

“Allow the young man to revel, don’t shower too many praise because anything can happen in T20 cricket,” reiterated Roberts.

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Roberts is not given to hyperbole when discussing cricketers. Even the Brett Lees and Shoaib Akhtars have been dismissed because he was not entirely convinced about their bowling action. Joseph, he says, has still not arrived. “I first saw him at 14, he had a lot of potential, and he still has a lot of potential. But he has a long way to go; it’s a learning period for him,” he said drily.

Joseph first made heads turn at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup when he clocked the tournament’s fastest delivery – 143 kph. Having made his Test debut against India, the 22-year-old has played nine Tests and 22 ODIs.

Roberts would be pleased that Joseph made the right statements after the game when he said, “I play for the wins, not the limelight”.

First Published: Apr 10, 2019 11:28 IST