An outbreak of pneumonic plague in the western state of Gujarat raised doubts about whether this tour would take place at all. Eventually, the West Indians arrived a week late - and they left the preservation of their reputation very late too. Having gone one down in the First Test at Bombay and drawn at Nagpur, they waited until the last day of the tour to hit back and level the series. West Indies had not lost a Test series since their 1-0 defeat in New Zealand in March 1980; the turnaround at Mohali near Chandigarh, was a great escape for Courtney Walsh and his party on a tour when little went right.
The West Indians found India a difficult experience. It was easy to sympathise with their lot in having to criss-cross the country on a hectic schedule to play on grossly under-prepared Test wickets. They were impoverished by the absence of regular captain Richie Richardson, who was suffering from exhaustion, and Curtly Ambrose, with a shoulder injury. In addition, opener Desmond Haynes had chosen to play in South Africa, after a misunderstanding over the captaincy, and all-rounder Winston Benjamin had been suspended over an off-the-field incident in April. Nevertheless, West Indies also seemed to suffer from an attitude problem. Their professionalism was in question before the Tests began, when they lost a one-day series to India for the first time - and again, in the final of a triangular tournament involving New Zealand.
The hastily rearranged itinerary was heavily loaded with one-day cricket. Though West Indies began the bilateral series (reduced from six games to five) with an emphatic win, India made sure of it by winning the next four. And the Indians also dominated the fortnight of the triangular competition, which interrupted the main programme. Star batsman Brian Lara had problems adjusting to the conditions, and the inexperience of the middle order and the support pace bowling was harshly exposed. The rub of the green did not favour the West Indians, either; several umpiring decisions went against them at a time when the officials were still unclear when and how to resort to the television replay.
West Indies thus reached Bombay for the Test series in a downbeat mood. Still, they had every chance to win there, especially when Kenneth Benjamin had India on the run at 11 for three in the second innings. But a couple of vital chances went begging and Sachin Tendulkar - unexpectedly backed up by tailender Javagal Srinath - set up India's tenth successive home victory, which was also the tenth Test win for captain Mohammad Azharuddin, an Indian record. Bombay was the worst pitch of the tour, but a slow surface at Nagpur did not suit the West Indians either. As India ran up a total of 546 for nine, thanks to centuries from Sidhu and Tendulkar - who scored his eighth Test hundred, while still only 21 - West Indies were in danger of losing their unbeaten series record. Here, however, they began to turn the tide, when the dogged persistence of Jimmy Adams and the classy strokeplay of Carl Hooper just about saved them. Adams scored an undefeated 125, demonstrating the value of concentration and studious pad-play, while Hooper, the outstanding batsman of the one-day matches, found his somewhat suspect Test temperament in the nick of time, and also picked up seven wickets with his off-spin. Their ability to keep out the spinners, who had led India's triumphal progress of recent seasons, was a heartening sign; it was noteworthy that the touring batsmen could pick leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who had been destroyer-in-chief.
Adams made a far more positive hundred at Mohali, where he took his series aggregate to 520 at a phenomenal 173.33. But Walsh was also at his best in Mohali, as captain and bowler. A normal Test pitch must have come as a sight for sore eyes, and the bracing winter weather also seemed to perk up the West Indians' attitude. Walsh deserved credit, though, first for his courage in defying a neck injury to play, and then for planning and carrying out his winning strategy to the last detail. Promoting Lara to open the second innings, when quick runs were essential, was a master stroke, giving the world record-holder one last chance on a forgettable tour, and on the final day Benjamin and Walsh swept aside the Indian batting. The pair had had to carry the pace attack throughout the series and finished it with 17 wickets apiece. Bouncing back to win by 243 runs did Walsh and his team great credit, and earned them the newly-constituted Fatesinhrao Gaekwad Trophy (on the strength of their 3-0 series win the previous time the teams met). Meanwhile, India had to accept their first defeat in 15 Tests since they lost in South Africa in December 1992.
C. A. Walsh (Jamaica) (captain), B. C. Lara (Trinidad & Tobago) (vice-captain), J. C. Adams (Jamaica), K. L. T. Arthurton (Leeward Islands), K. C. G. Benjamin (Leeward Islands), B. St A. Browne (Guyana), S. L. Campbell (Barbados), S. Chanderpaul (Guyana), C. E. Cuffy (Windward Islands), A. C. Cummins (Barbados), R. Dhanraj (Trinidad & Tobago), R. I. C. Holder (Barbados), C. L. Hooper (Guyana), J. R. Murray (Windward Islands), P. V. Simmons (Trinidad & Tobago), S. C. Williams (Leeward Islands).
Manager: D. A. J. Holford. Cricket manager: R. B. Kanhai.
Test matches - Played 3: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 1.
First-class matches - Played 5: Won 1, Lost 1, Drawn 3.
Win - India.
Loss - India.
Draws - India, Indian Board President's XI, Bombay.
One-day internationals - Played 10: Won 3, Lost 6, No result 1. Wins - India (2), New Zealand. Losses - India (6). No result - New Zealand.
Other non-first-class match - Lost v Chandigarh Administrator's XI.