Mumbai: Carlton Baugh had a wry, suggestive smile when he dropped Sachin Tendulkar off Devendra Bishoo on the third afternoon of the third cricket Test here. The West Indies wicketkeeper conveyed his sneaky feeling that the great man, perhaps, was destined to get his hundredth international hundred on his home ground.
That was not to be, a case of so close and yet so far. Tendulkar was 94 -- a stroke away from the magic figure. Curiously his downfall was planned by two men who kept saying right through the tour that they would do anything to stop him from getting to the landmark, Ravi Rampaul and skipper Darren Sammy.
Come to think of it, Rampaul stopped Tendulkar twice in the last eight months, first in the World Cup game in Chennai and now here on the fourth morning.
Rampaul said on arrival in Delhi for the three-Test series that his side would try their best to stop Tendulkar scoring the elusive hundred in the series.
Sammy was more expressive, saying that he would love Tendulkar to get his hundred hundreds but he would prefer to sit in his couch back in the Caribbean and watch him getting it in the series against Australia.
Sammy and Rampaul worked it out all, or so they might claim. Ian Bishop in his commentary stint on TV revealed that when asked what would be the plan, Rampaul told him that the second new ball would be taken and that he would try to slant it towards slips.
The way Sachin faced Rampaul and Fidel Edwards this morning it looked their move was going awry and the new ball was only hastening his hundred as he moved from overnight 67 to 94 in a jiffy with three delectable fours and an uppercut six.
Then the ball of the Test was fired by Rampaul. It rose a little more than the previous one and Tendulkar tried to steer it safely as that happened to be the last ball of the over. But Sammy stood in the way to take an excellent catch. There was eerie silence as the Master started his long walk back looking skyward and wondering how long does he have to endure the agony.
After dismissing Tendulkar in the first over in Chennai, an elated Rampaul said: "It was the perfect ball at the perfect time."
He went on to bag a five-wicket haul, though West Indies were mauled by 80 runs.
"It was the best ball of my cricket career, it was one of those moments 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," Rampaul gushed.
That brilliant performance proved the turning point in his career as he was drafted in to the playing eleven because of an illness to Kemar Roach. Curiously, Rampaul, who missed the second Test in Kolkata because of illness, returned to replace Roach for the Mumbai Test.
Leggie Devendra Bishoo, who walked into the Test side after his performance in the World Cup, dismissed Tendulkar in the Delhi and Kolkata Tests and Sammy gloated how he had planned the dismissal in Delhi.
That's what Tendulkar's wicket means to bowlers and captains around the world.