India head into Boxing Day Test high on confidence

Durban, Dec 25 : A confident India will Thursday head into the Boxing Day Test match against South Africa at Kingsmead.

Both the teams came tantalisingly close to a historic win in the first Test match in Johannesburg. While South Africa fell short by eight runs, India were three wickets short.

Given South Africa's poor performance in Boxing Day Test matches at the Kingsmead in recent past, India can hope for their second win here at the same venue.

South Africa have suffered four losses in the past five visits. Their only win came against a weak West Indies side. Their losses came against Australia (March 2009), England (December 2009), India (December 2010) and Sri Lanka (December 2011).

The injury to fast bowler Morne Morkel has come at a wrong time for South Africa.

But skipper Graeme Smith feels they can do without Morkel, who sustained an ankle injury during the first Test. Rory Kleinveldt or Kyle Abbott is likely to replace Morkel.

"I think we've been really fortunate over the last period of time that we haven't had too many serious injuries to our frontline seamers. I think a decision will be made about Morne by this evening (Wednesday), so there's still hope he'll come through. He's done really well so we'll see how he goes today. The medical staff will make the decision on that," said Smith.

"But I feel we have enough basic covered to still be effective even if he's not fit," he added.

South Africa also have to take a call on whether to continue with leggie Imran Tahir, who was unimpressive in Johannesburg, or replace him with Robin Peterson.

Meanwhile, young Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who struck a century in Johannesburg, feels the visitors can pull off their second win here at the same venue.

"The kind of batting line up they have (means) we have got a very good chance to bowl them out. Just AB De Villiers and Faf du Plessis were able to score big runs. Apart from them, no one got big totals. So it's a positive sign for us," said Pujara.

"We believe we can get them out. If you look at the last session, they were cautious about not going for the target so they are worried about their tail-enders," he said.

Contrary to Smith, Pujara felt the potential loss of Morkel would be a big loss for the Proteas.

"It will make a huge difference for them because the kind of bounce he gets from the wicket makes it difficult to score for the batsmen. Steyn and Morkel are used to bowling in partnership, so that will also make a huge difference," Pujara said.

--IANS (Posted on 26-12-2013)

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