It was the bowlers rather than the batsmen who gave Indian teams nightmares over the years but there were always the heroic figures who stood out like Horatio on the tottering bridge.
Partab Ramchand examines the feats of six cricketers who over an extended period finished with a tremendous record against the formidable opposition (qualifications: aggregate over 1000 runs and average over 50).
Polly Umrigar (Matches 16, runs 1372, average 50.81)
Even while his teammates were floundering against the pace of Frank King, Wesley Hall, Roy Gilchrist, Charlie Stayers and Lester King and the spin of Sonny Ramadhin, Alf Valentine, Gary Sobers and Lance Gibbs, Umrigar battled it out during three five-match rubbers against the West Indies in the fifties and sixties.
Tall and sturdily built, Umrigar made his Test debut against West Indies in 1948-49 but it was really on the tour of the Caribbean in 1953 that he achieved world class status with an aggregate of 560 runs with two hundreds and four half centuries. Back home in 1958-59, he again headed the aggregates with 337 runs even as the team was thrashed 3-0.
He ended his career with the 1962 tour of the Caribbean on a grand note heading the figures yet again with 445 runs for a team that was swept aside 5-0. Included in this run was probably the most memorable innings of his long career when he hammered 172 not out at Port of Spain, hitting Hall for four fours in one over in the process.
This actually followed a top score of 56 in the first innings and a five wicket haul making him only the second Indian after Vinoo Mankad to hit a century and take five wickets in an innings in a Test. Little wonder then that West Indian cricket fans hailed him as the 'Palm Tree hitter'.