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Have to start 2nd Test from scratch: Pujara

Durban: Cheteshwar Pujara, on Tuesday, sought to play mind games ahead of the second Test against South Africa, saying the visitors didn’t go for the kill in the first Test because they didn’t have confidence on their tail enders’ abilities.

He also said India had more positives to take home from the first Test and they would like to “build on the gains” from the drawn match.

“If we consider the last match, we have had more positives than South Africa. We made a statement by batting first and with the ball doing a bit, we batted really well. When they batted in the first innings, there wasn’t much help from the track. Still our bowlers put up a disciplined performance,” Pujara told a media conference here.

“In the second innings, they had the opportunity to bat in better conditions. On the last day, we were expecting some more movement but it didn’t happen. They were lucky enough to survive,” Pujara, who scored an impressive 153 in the first Test, said.

Pujara said India had a better chance of winning the first Test. “We had a very good chance to win the match. But it was during one good partnership (between AB de Villiers and Faf Du Plessis) in a session when things didn’t go our way. If we had got one wicket — either Faf or AB — then we would have had a very good chance of winning the match.

“But then, emotionally and mentally, coming out to play in Durban is a good thing for us. It is a new match and we have to start from scratch. We have to forget what happened in Johannesburg and focus on our plans for this game,” Pujara said.

Pujara did not shy away from stating that South Africa didn’t go for the kill in the first Test as they didn’t have confidence in their tail-enders.

“Only two of their batsmen, Faf and AB scored runs in the whole match. We are confident that we can get their batsmen out. Also, if you notice, they didn’t go for victory in the end, so they are not confident about their tail-enders getting runs. Nevertheless, it was a very exciting finish.”

Pujara didn’t shy away from asking questions as to how Morne Morkel’s replacement Kyle Abbott will fit in the scheme of things.

“It will a huge difference for them because the replacement bowler (Kyle Abbott) hasn’t played much with this team. Even in Abu Dhabi, he didn’t play against Pakistan. So they will be a bit concerned because Dale Steyn is used to bowling with Morkel in a partnership.”

Steyn didn’t have a great Test but Pujara, by no means, would like to underestimate the fast bowler.

“Of course, it is good for us that Steyn didn’t pick any wickets. But he’s a very good bowler and nobody in our team is underestimating him.”