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November 25, 2011
Can you set up Sachin Tendulkar? Apparently yes, according to Ravi Rampaul. Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, had a brief chat early on Friday morning with Rampaul, one half of the visitors' new-ball pair. Gibson, a former Windies fast bowler himself, sketched out a plan, asking Rampaul to keep an off stump line, pull his length back and surprise Tendulkar with the bounce. Rampaul did all that, and successfully trapped Tendulkar six short of a much-awaited century.
"This morning while we were warming up, the coach and I were chatting about how we were going to bowl at him and out him," Rampaul said at the end of the day's play. The plan was to basically get closer to the wicket and just angle the ball away from him. He nicked it and it was a good feeling."
Tendulkar had started off briskly, with a couple of punched drives for fours, and an upper-cut six off Fidel Edwards. The visitors opted for the second new ball first thing in the morning and Rampaul was trying to hit the seam, just short of length, keeping an off stump line in his attempt to make Tendulkar play. It took him a few overs to hit the right stride. Also he noticed that Tendulkar was playing him from out of his crease.
"He was batting out of his crease, trying to get the ball a little fuller so I realised that and pulled back my length. The ball before actually bounced as well. It was just the right ball at the right time," is how Rampaul described the wicket.
Asked if he it was the best wicket in his 12-Test career, Rampaul did rank it high on his list. "It was a big moment," he said. "The atmosphere was huge and there was lot of crowd support for him. He is a big wicket."
It did not take much time for the hate messages to float on planet Twitter, where sharp verbal darts were being thrown at the quiet man from Trinidad & Tobago. According to Rampaul, the bad vibes against him were heard even at the ground. "I got that as soon as Sachin got out. When I went back to the boundary it was not all that nice," Rampaul said about being heckled by the Mumbai fans. "That is life and that is how cricket goes. I know a lot of fans are down and heartbroken but we can't just let him go and play freely. We had our job to do, much as he had his job to do."
Immediately after Tendulkar's departure, India suffered a double-jolt when Darren Sammy spread-eagled MS Dhoni's stumps with a fuller-length delivery, which Dhoni tried playing with poor footwork. Two wickets for nine runs, three overall before lunch, had the West Indies' spirits high. However, the inexperienced pair of Virat Kohli and R Ashwin played with resolve and their 97-run partnership for the seventh wicket helped India recover fast. Ashwin further frustrated Sammy and his troops with a fluent century.
Rampaul insisted that the bowlers had not relaxed after Tendulkar's wicket, and instead gave credit to Kohli and Ashwin for their pluck. "They really batted well," Rampaul said. "Ashwin came out and assessed the wicket and batted according to the conditions. Kohli also did well. When the partnership was building we just tried to stick to our plans, restrict them, and hoping that they will give away their hand. The wicket is not one where you could blast out anybody or spin out anyone. You just have to stick to the basics and stick to the team plans."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the day from the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi