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History of Indian cricket - 1940s

Due to the Second World War in early 1940’s, India could not play any Test matches. A lot of domestic matches were played during this period. The two Vijays: Merchant and Hazare hogged much of the limelight in the domestic arena.
In 1943, Hazare scored 248 against the Muslims in a Pentagular tournament. Merchant then went on to score an unbeaten 250 against the Rest. Hazare then went on to topple this record and scored an outstanding 309 in a space of a week.

India first tours Australia – 1947-48

The Australian tour in 1947-48 turned out to be disastrous for the Indian Cricket team. India, under skipper Lala Amarnath, lost the series 0-4 to Bradman’s “Invincibles”. The loss looked quite surprising considering India’s recent run of form in the domestic circuit.

Bradman made 185 in the first innings of the first Test at Brisbane, which took Australia to a huge score of 382. This proved to be enough for both the Indian innings as they could only manage a score of 58 and 98 in the first and the second innings respectively.

The second Test at Sydney was more closely fought though the match ended in a draw with only 3 days of play possible. The third Test at Melbourne saw Sir Don Bradman at his very best with scores of 132 in the first and 127 not out in the second innings to his name. A century by MH Mankad in the first innings could not save India and they lost by 233 runs.

At Adelaide, in the fourth Test, the Australians made a mighty 674 in the first innings due to a double century by Bradman. The Indians replied with a total of 381 in their first innings with centuries from Hazare and Phadkar. Even though they were made to follow on, Hazare saved face for the team again by scoring a brilliant 145. The Indians were bundled away again for 277 on the board, but this match led to the start of close kinship between Hazare and Bradman.

The fifth Test at Melbourne saw the Australians win by an innings and 177 runs and with it they won the 5-match series 4-0. A major reason for the failure of the Indians was the absence of Fazal Mahmood and Mushtaq Ali in the Indian team due to partition. All the responsibility lay on the shoulders of the ace batsmen and bowler Vijay Samuel Hazare. But he could not single handedly take the battle up to the mighty Australians.

For India the stars century makers were Vinoo Mankad (two), Vijay Hazare (two) and Dattu Phadkar. India was dismissed for less than 100 three times in the innings, though. Bradman finished the series with an average of 143.

West Indies first tour of India 1948-49

The tour was supposed to commence in 1946, but due to lack of funds the BCCI delayed it and the mighty West Indies finally made it on the Indian soil in 1948.

The first Test at Delhi ended in a draw. The West Indians amassed 631 runs in their first innings. However they failed to bowl the Indians out in the final innings and the Indians were successful in drawing the game with 4 wickets in hand.

The second Test at Mumbai was again drawn in a similar fashion. After making the Indians follow on, the West Indies again failed to bowl them out in the second innings. Modi and Hazare saved face by scoring a century a piece in the second innings.

The third Test was more evenly contested with the Indians coming up with a better performance. After being set a target of 431 by the West Indies in the final innings, a century from Mushtaq Ali in the second innings got the Indians within sniffing distance of the target but time did not permit them to achieve it. The match ended in a draw.

The fourth Test at Madras saw the West Indians win by an innings and 193 runs. The Indian batting failed to fire in both the innings after being made to follow on, they were bundled away for a mere 144 in the second innings.

The fifth Test also ended in a draw though the Indians were just one step away from victory. After being set a target of 361 runs in the fourth innings, the Indians reached 355 at the close of play with 2 wickets to spare.

With Phadkar and Ghulam Ahmed still at the crease with 6 runs to get and a minute and a half left, stumps were pulled and the match was drawn, but the degree of excitement had reached its pinnacle. With this, the West Indies won the 5-match series 1-0.

The issue that gained more importance over cricket during this tour was the captain Amarnath being accused by the Board president, De Mello. There were 23 charges against Amarnath, which included accepting a bribe of Rs. 5000 from officials to include Probir Sen in the team.

Amarnath retaliated by taking out a 39-page statement in which he answered to all the charges and even stated that De Mello had acting out personal vendetta.

It was during this tour that Everton Weeks went on to make a record consecutive five centuries and was run out on 90 on his way to the sixth. His Indian tour ended with a total of 1495 in his kitty at an average of 106.78.

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