Kolkata:The turnaround they scripted goes to show how resilient Indian bowlers are, said coach Gary Kirsten, lavishing praise on Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh for their late strikes on the opening day of the second Test against South Africa.
"We were in trouble at tea, let's be honest about that. We were in a spot of bother. All credit to bowlers for turning it around. They showed tremendous resilience. The bowlers in this series have actually bowled very well and they have not got the rewards they would have liked to get," Kirsten said.
"They have stuck to their game-plan and are coming in with good effort. You must remember when you pick four bowlers in absence of a fifth one in team's scheme of things, it's an enormous workload on the bowlers," Kirsten said at the press conference after day's play.
Zaheer and Harbhajan picked up three wickets apiece to reduce South Africa to 266 for nine after the visitors dominated the first two sessions owing to centuries by Hashim Amla (114) and debutant Alviro Petersen (100).
The hosts picked up seven wickets in the post-tea session conceding just 38 runs before bad light stopped the play.
"Zaheer is the leader of our attack. So full credit to bowlers for the way they are performing in the Indian team. We have been backing ourselves to get 20 wickets in a Test and they are doing the business," Kirsten said.
Kirsten also backed lanky paceman Ishant Sharma who was lackluster in his first spell but found his rhythm in the later part of the day.
Though he had just one wicket to show, the pace he generated in the final session rattled the visiting batsmen.
"It was a great spell and a very important one. More than getting wickets, it just set the tone for what we really wanted to achieve after tea. We feel he is on the edge of doing some good things. He is an exceptionally talented bowler and he is coming back to really some nice form," Kirsten said.
"I thought he really bowled a nice aggressive spell. He wanted to get his pace up, he was getting 140kph," the former South African cricketer added.
Kirsten also praised off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who alongwith Zaheer, was instrumental in India's turnaround and ended the opening day with figures of 23-2-63-3.
"Harbhajan bowled really well in the last game. It was South Africans who played him really well in the last game. He needed to come up in ways even though he was in good rhythm to get wickets," Kirsten said.
"Don't look at the results but look at the bowling. I have been very confident that he has got better and better as the series has gone along. We know he is a strike bowler. when he gets it going and the confidence is high, he is going to get wickets also," he added.
Summing up the day, Kirsten said, "It was an interesting day. I don't think we started well as we would have liked to have. But we certainly ended very well. To get seven wickets in a session for just 38 runs put us right back into the game. All credit to bowlers."
"We know this is a game of cricket, it happened to us in first Test. But we got to stick to us what we believe in. This game can turn around very quickly."
"I think, we probably allowed them to play a little more aggressively in the beginning. But let's not forget that it was a very quick outfield so you get good value for shots here. The run-rate is a fair reflection of how good the wicket and outfield are" he said.
Describing the Eden Gardens wicket a "good" one, Kirsten said, "It did not offer that much assistance to spinners, but there was a fair amount of carry for the spinners. There is a long way to go for the Test and it looks like a fairly good wicket."