Johannesburg: India skipper Virat Kohli has said his team's belief stayed intact when others doubted them and the favourable outcome in the third Test was a result of that unflinching belief.
Kohli and Co had received a lot of flak after losing the opening two Tests.
"A lot of people didn't have belief in us but as a team we knew that we were very close in the first two Tests too. We knew that if we played better in pressure-situations than them, then we would win," he said after the 63-run win at the Wanderers yesterday.
"And we did that in this Test match. This win was very important from our and the Indian team's point of view, and we were determined to win this match," he added.
Despite the losses, Kohli said his team never lost faith and always backed themselves.
"We don't think like people on the outside. When things don't go well, we as a team don't say 'oh we should have done this' or 'we should have done that'. That's the easiest thing to do. I can say or write anything about anyone," he said.
"But when you're in there, facing their bowling attack on that sort of a wicket, and then when you decide to bat first, you need to be sure. You need to have belief in yourself. So, we certainly back ourselves as a team and that's something we have done throughout this tour. Yes, we were disappointed things did not come together in the first two games but we are really proud of this effort."
Kohli today termed the win in the third Test as a massive milestone for his team and said it could help the side win more matches in alien conditions in the upcoming series.
India maintained their unbeaten record at the Wanderers today after dismissing South Africa for 177 to pull one back in the three-Test series.
"It could be a massive milestone for us. We already had the belief but now we have the result to back it up. We certainly believe that in any conditions, we have the ability to think about winning Tests," he said.
"Yes, we will lose some but we will end up winning a lot as well. This day will be remembered for a long time as a team. I believe that and the whole team believes that. The mood in the change room is amazing right now and the guys are looking forward to repeating this much more in conditions that are not ours."
On a green-top wicket, India played only five full-time batsmen and a five-pacer attack as well. Then they opted to bat first after winning the toss and yet managed to etch out a win.
"The decision to play all five seamers was purely because of the fact that someone like Hardik [Pandya] can do the job of the fifth bowler here and to play four seamers here is something that really worked in our favour," Kohli explained.
"It's just that we batted better than them in this game and bowled better. That's why we won."
Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla put on 119 runs for the second wicket and South Africa were placed at 124 for 1 at one stage. The Proteas, though, collapsed afterwards and succumbed to the pressure of the fourth-innings chase.
Kohli said: "We got stuck into them in the second innings at Cape Town as well. Then they had a collapse in Centurion in the first innings. So we knew that if we get a couple of wickets the same thing could be repeated.
"Because as a batsman you are certainly reminded of the collapses that you have had and you don't want to repeat that. We knew that the kind of bowling attack we had and the way we are bowling right now, even if get a couple of wickets it will only be a matter of time."
The India skipper further explained: "I don't think like people on outside [and worry about wickets not falling]. It's very important for me to have belief in the team. At all stages I was thinking if we were in this position, and if we lose a wicket, that suddenly makes things difficult for the next batsman coming in to bat.
"We knew that when they lose a couple of wickets, guys coming in are going to be nervous because this is Johannesburg. They need to play well and do the job. We had nothing to lose, we were playing expressive cricket, and we got stuck into them. This is probably one of our sweetest wins and I am really proud of the whole team."
South Africa won the series 2-1 and now the two teams look forward to the six-match ODI series starting in Durban on February 1.
"There is a lot of mutual respect. The rivalry stays on the pitch. We don't see anyone talking ill about the other team. They give credit to us when we do well and we give credit to them when they do well.
"A lot of these guys play with us in the IPL as well so we know them really well also. But when you step out as a team, there are no friendships there, there is only competition.
"And it is exciting for world cricket and that's why this win was important for us. Because we are the No. 1 side in the world and we played like that today."