"It was the perfect ball at the perfect time." That's how Ravi Rampaul, the West Indies seamer, described his delivery that got rid of Sachin Tendulkar in the first over in Chennai. Rampaul, in his first World Cup match, went on to take a maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs but his team was at the receiving end of an 80-run defeat. Despite the eventual loss, the five-for, and that delivery, marked a personal highlight for Rampaul.
"It was the best ball of my cricket career. It was one of those moments in life you dream of. When I saw him walk I felt great. It was an amazing feeling. I wasn't sure how to celebrate. Here was I, in one of the biggest matches of my career, getting the wicket of one of the greatest batsmen. I felt really great to get such a massive breakthrough for the team," Rampaul said.
Rampaul was drafted in to the XI due to an illness to Kemar Roach. He began on an unsavoury note, conceding five wides off his first delivery in World Cup cricket. But off the final ball of that first over, he got a shortish delivery on off stump to straighten, one that Tendulkar stabbed at and ended up feathering an edge to the keeper. Tendulkar walked off immediately after he was caught, even though Steve Davis, the umpire, shook his head.
"I was happy to get into the team and play my part. It was very exciting to play in front such a large crowd on such a big stage," Rampaul said. "I went out and got five wickets and I was really happy to get the full support of everyone in the team. I was happy to be able to make the most of my opportunity."
Rampaul returned in his next spell to break a century-stand between Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh, and continued to chip away in the death overs when India, as they had done against South Africa, collapsed. He finished with 5 for 51. "The pitch had some extra bounce at the start of the India innings and I knew if I got the ball in the right areas I would be successful," he said. "Later in the innings I got the ball to reverse swing and I attacked the stumps. Things went in my favour and I felt good to get my first five-wicket haul in one-day cricket."
The defeat for West Indies meant they finished fourth in Group B, setting up a quarter-final clash in Dhaka against Group A leaders Pakistan on March 23.