Thrashed in the first Test in Nagpur, Team India's [ Images ] fighting spirit stood out to the core during their convincing victory in the second Test in Kolkata [ Images ], said Harbhajan Singh [ Images ].
The ace off-spinner bowled a match-winning spell of five for 59 in the second innings to lead India to a thumping victory by an innings and 57 runs against South Africa [ Images ] in Kolkata, on Thursday.
Harbhajan later admitted that he was in a lot of pain but despite that bowled a total of 36.3 overs on the final day because he was aware that in Zaheer Khan's [ Images ] absence he had to lead the attack.
"I was in a lot of pain today. My shin was hurting but I tried to bowl the way I can do and I am very happy today," he said.
The 29-year-old also slammed out at the critics, who after their Nagpur debacle, had claimed that India didn't deserve to be ranked number in Tests.
"We have learnt that if we fight till the end we will do special things. Everyone was up for the fight and we knew that it was an important game for all of us. There has been a lot of talk about us that it was a fluke to be the number one side and all that. It was not a fluke at all, we have worked really hard to reach the top and today we have showed the world that we deserve to be number one. I hope now you guys will put some positive stories about it," he said.
Harbhajan also took a moment to reflect on his success at Eden Gardens, where he has taken 46 wickets in seven matches at 21.76, including six five-wicket haul and a ten-wicket haul.
It was at this very ground that he played a stellar role in one of the greatest comebacks in world cricket, when his hat-trick along with VVS Laxman's [ Images ] magical and Rahul Dravid's [ Images ] 180 saw India beat Australia [ Images ] by 171 runs after being asked to follow on.
"Every player has his own special ground. Anil bhai [Kumble] always enjoyed bowling in Delhi [ Images ] and I always enjoyed bowling at the Eden Gardens because I have always done well here, touchwood. So far I have done well and I am happy at the way I have done well and I hope it will continue to be the same in future as well," he said.
The offie revealed that there was no extra pressure despite his lacklustre showing in Nagpur and he was confident that he could snap up the last wicket before stumps.
"The whole game I have been just been very relaxed and I knew that if I bowl in the right areas then I will create the opportunities to get batsmen out and that is what I was looking to do. I was very focused and I knew what I was doing and I knew my plans and we got it right. I wanted to pitch the ball up and I wanted to get him leg before wicket or bat pad at silly point or in the slips so there were a lot of options. That is what I was trying to do by keeping things simple."
Harbhajan paid rich tribute to South Africa's hero of the series, Hashim Amla [ Images ], who amassed 490 runs in three innings in the series after being dismissed just once, including a double century and back to back centuries in the Kolkata Test.
"Obviously Amla batted very well. Most of the teams when they come here, they don't know much about the spin, whether it is turning, bouncing or keeping low from the wicket. But he was very calm throughout his batting and that was probably the key. He kept on playing on to his style of cricket, he never took any chances, he never looked to do something fancy, he just played cricketing shots. I think he was the best batsman in the South African batting line-up," he said.
Zaheer Khan's absence because of injury during the Indian second innings when he didn't bowl at all on the final day put a lot of pressure on the rest, but they all stood up to the task and delivered when it mattered.
"Zaheer was definitely missed in the second innings. I think all we three bowlers and Sehwag also, the fourth bowler, we have taken the pressure, we have taken the responsibility, we knew that we were one guy and we had to do it with whatever resources we had and I am glad we have come out champion," he said.