When Harbhajan Singh smashed Dale Steyn for a straight six while the South African was in the middle of one of his best spells, it proved two things --- one, the Indian tail is more than capable with the bat, and, two, they are neither scared of pace or bounce and have the grit to slug it out in the most adverse conditions.
Their showing with the bat in the crucial moments could easily turn out to be one of the most vital factors deciding the outcome of the series. While it was Zaheer Khan who held fort for India alongside VVS Laxman in the second innings at Durban, Harbhajan put his hand up in the deciding Test to make a vital 40 in the face of some hostile bowling from Steyn and company.
As one would expect, a lot of hard work must have gone into converting India's perennial drawback into strength. "They take a lot of pride in their batting and work hard on it. They don't want to throw it away and that has helped the team a lot," said VVS Laxman.
Apart from the hard work, constant encouragement from the top batsmen too has helped a lot. "Playing alongside Laxman and Sachin is a great help. They make it comfortable for us," said Harbhajan.
Laxman says it's all about sharing a rapport and giving them confidence. "I share a very good rapport with all of them, that's very important to me. I try to set small targets with them, like sharing a five-run partnership."
Besides, he said, knowing what they are comfortable with is equally important. "I let them take strike if they are feeling comfortable, but if I see they aren't comfortable facing a particular bowler, I try to keep them off the strike. It's just about what they are comfortable with," said Laxman.
No wonder, India skipper MS Dhoni considers the much improved skill of the tail with the bat as one of the highlights of the team in the last few years. "Tailenders have improved their batting a lot and that's one of the reasons for our success in the recent past," he said.