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The West Indies first toured India in 1948-49. The five-match series was no less than a dramatic soap opera, a dull start notwithstanding. The series was the first to be hosted by independent India.

Delhi, the national capital, hosted the first Test in front of an animated crowd. Lala Amarnath, the Indian captain lost the toss. What followed was disastrous. The West Indies piled up a mammoth 631, with Clyde Walcott, Gomes, Weekes and Christiani all scoring centuries. India managed 454 and saved the Test despite being asked to save the follow-on.

The second Test at Mumbai followed the same script. The West Indies reached 629-6, thanks to one of India's worst fielding displays. The batting was no different from the fielding, and the home team finished with 273. They applied themselves better in the second essay, and centuries by Rusi Modi and Vijay Hazare enabled India to save the match.

The Kolkata Test, the third of the series, can be summarised as 'Everton Weekes v/s India'. One of the three Ws scored majestic centuries in both innings. India also batted well, with maverick opener Syed Mushtaq Ali leading the way. India drew the game comfortably.

The West Indies moved up a gear in the next Test at Chennai. Dattu Phadkar apart, every Indian bowler was taken to the cleaners. The West Indies capitalised on a tactical error by Amarnath, who instructed his bowlers to 'bounce' the opposition. Short-pitched bowling was what the West Indian batsmen had grown up playing, and the Indian bowlers were not as quick as their Caribbean counterparts. Amarnath and his team paid the price, and the Windies eventually won by an innings and 193 runs to go one-up in the series.

The teams returned to the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai for the fifth and final Test of the series. The game was eagerly awaited, for all of India expected Amarnath and his team to fight back.

India got off to a great start, restricting the West Indies to 286. But the Indian batsmen flattered to deceive. All the batsmen got starts, but none stayed at the wicket for a substantial period. Instead of taking a lead, the Indians conceded one of 93. The West Indies were dismissed for 267 in their second innings. It was the first time in the series that the Windies had lost twenty wickets in a Test.

India needed 361 to win, a difficult but not impossible task. The key lay in the Indian batting. If it clicked, anything was possible. The openers fell cheaply, but Amarnath promoted himself to no. 3 and filled the breach. He played some superlative strokes before being bowled by Atkinson for 39. The score now was 90-3. The determined duo of Modi and Hazare carried on and took the score to 220.

Their partnership shook the West Indians, prompting the visitors to resort to deplorable negative tactics. They packed the leg-side with six men and the bowlers started bowling a leg-stump line. Such tactics would not be allowed today.

Modi fell 14 short of a hundred in the quest for quick runs. However, Hazare completed his century before being bowled by Jones.

India needed 72 from the final ninety minutes. The lower-order did its bit, and the match reached a stage wherein 21 were required from fifteen minutes. The West Indies resumed their dirty tricks at this point. Although drinks had already been taken, the fielding team asked for another. The Indian umpires, who for some reason were awestruck by the West Indians, allowed them to do so. Wicketkeeper Walcott then started walking to the boundary-line and back to his position at a laborious pace.

India needed eleven from a maximum of two overs. Phadkar hit a much-needed boundary off the second ball off the penultimate over. The next two balls fetched two more runs. India needed five to win with one-and-a-half minutes, and the final delivery of what should have been the second-last over left. But the umpire at the bowler's end walked up to the stumps, took off the bails and announced the end of the match! Simply shocking!

India thus missed a golden opportunity of levelling the series and registering its first Test win, due to a combination of foul play by their opponents, and the incompetence of the umpires. India took another three years to open its account in Test cricket, with an innings win over England at Chennai in February 1952.

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