'We hope to get better and better' - Dhoni
MS Dhoni is looking for more improvement from India after they swept past Afghanistan in their opening match of the World Twenty20 in St Lucia. India, the 2007 champions, back up against South Africa on Sunday, but are already looking towards the final stages of the event.
"We hope to get better and better as the tournament goes," Dhoni said after the seven-wicket success. "With today's win we have qualified for the Super Eight stage. That is when we need to play at our best because each of the teams have the potential to win the title."
Dhoni was unbeaten on 15 off six balls when the winning runs were scored in the 15th over, as they comfortably passed Afghanistan's 115 for 8. "We jell well as a team and the dressing room atmosphere is wonderful," Dhoni said. "We play and win as a happy family. If we continue in the same spirit, we should be able to do well in this event."
Ashish Nehra led the bowling with 3 for 19 while the debutant Murali Vijay guided the chase with 48 off 46 balls. "Murali Vijay is an asset to the team," Dhoni said. "We saw during the IPL what he can do with the bat. He is a batsman who looks quiet but is capable of playing big shots when the situation warrants."
Afghanistan did not give up in their first game on the major stage and enjoyed the experience of playing against a high-quality side. "India is one of the best teams in the world," the captain Nowroz Mangal said. "We were very happy to play our first match against them. Early in the morning the wicket was difficult for us but it was a good experience for our guys."
The opener Noor Ali made sure his side would post a decent total with 50 while Ashgar Stanikzai hit three sixes over midwicket in his 30. They were the only batsmen to reach double figures as the rest struggled with the short balls of the fast bowlers.
Afghanistan's coach Kabir Khan knows the only way they will improve against the quicks is to face them more. "So far they haven't played fast bowlers of that pace, which normally they would have trouble with," he said. "I hope after the World Cup we play against good sides so they get used to it." Their final group game is against South Africa in Barbados on Wednesday.