Seasoned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Friday lambasted his detractors for questioning his ability, saying a bowler who has taken more than 350 wickets in a 13-year career could not possibly be "dumb or an idiot".
Harbhajan, who was instrumental in India's dramatic win over South Africa in the second Test on Thursday, feels coming among the top 10 bowlers in ICC rankings itself speaks a lot in his favour.
"We are neither dumb, nor idiots. The idiots don't play 13 years for their country. Nor do they claim 350 Test wickets during their career," fumed Harbhajan, who picked five for 59 at the Eden Garden.
"Critics have a job to do. I respect it, however, I can make a few points for their benefit. Can a bowler, who often has been in ICC's list of top 10 bowlers during the last two years be that bad and that stupid?" Harbhajan told PTI over phone.
Harbhajan, who made his Test debut in 1998 against Australia, also considers the "straighter" deliveries as one of the effective weapons in his armoury and said it should not be seen as "inability" of the bowler to turn the ball.
"When a left-arm spinner bowls a straighter delivery, you credit him with one. Why a slider from an off-spinner is viewed as his inability to spin it?" asked Harbhajan, whose one such delivery dismissed Morne Morkel in the dying moments yesterday", he said.
"I bowl onto the stumps occasionally because on those wickets where ball does a little, you need to create angles for bowled and lbw decisions to come into the play. If the batsmen can use their feet, why you do not credit a bowler for not allowing a batsman to use his feet?" Harbhajan said.
The 29-year-old bowler also feels it was nothing but consistent performance which has helped India climb on top of the ICC Test ranking.
"Can the number one Test ranking be achieved overnight? Is it not a reflection of sustained progress achieved by the Team India over the last two years?
"Just as the critics have a job to do, we also have a job to keep India's tricolour flying. We know what our success means to millions of fans across the world and we are prepared to walk on the fire to bring honour and glory to the country," he added.
The spinner said that critics should put the interest of Indian cricket before everything.
"Everyone must keep the interest of Indian cricket as a priority. There is no reason to get personal, this success is as much for us as it is for our critics."
On Thursday's victory, he said: "Let this moment be dedicated to those fans who stay all nights, travel miles, bear hardships and have all the affections for the welfare of Indian cricket.
"Let it be a promise on our part that we would only treat this moment as just the beginning," Harbhajan said.