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Though India come into the third installment of the ICC World Twenty20 as heavyweights, their leader MS Dhoni knows full well that their first encounter, against Afghanistan, has the potential to be a little uncomfortable. Afghanistan, ahead of their first major tournament featuring the game's top sides, are coming off two consecutive warm-up wins and that was enough indication for Dhoni to rule out complacency on India's part.

"If you ask me, I would not consider our opening match against Afghanistan as a practice game," Dhoni told reporters in St Lucia. "I don't take my opponents lightly. At the end of the day you have to win whichever team you play. I don't know much about them. It is good in a way because if we know too much about a side then you are thinking too much about them. However, our preparation will remain the same as if you are playing the best opponent in world cricket.

"We can't really relax against whichever team you are playing. At the end of the day you are representing India and you have to be at your best when you turn up on the field."

India will be without Virender Sehwag and a few players are short on match practice but Dhoni was his normal, collected self when addressing the matter. "It is part and parcel of cricket that people get injured. But at the end of the day we have replaced them with the best possible players available," he said. "We are just hoping that we won't miss them on the field. We are hopeful that people who have come as replacements would step up to the occasion and perform."

Yuvraj Singh had a disastrous IPL but Dhoni defended his explosive batsman, whose status as a Twenty20 bully was cemented in the first World Twenty20 during which he hit Stuart Broad for six successive sixes in an over. "He bats at number four and the individual he is, he can easily play the big shots. There aren't enough grounds in the world that are big enough for him not to clear," said Dhoni. "These big hitters have a big impact on the game. Somebody like Kieron Pollard or [Andrew] Symonds are the kind of players who can take the game away from the opponents in three or four overs. It is a big stage for him [Yuvraj] and, as we have seen of him, he loves challenges."

Dhoni's focus was not on the past - India were knocked out of the last World Twenty in the second round - and he said the team was eager to get off to a winning note. "Rather than thinking too much of the past and into the future, it is very important to be in the present. We have a couple of days before we play the first game. It is important to get the most out of it. We have to adapt to the conditions here and be prepared for the matches ahead," Dhoni said.

"Right now we are keen to play the games here [St Lucia]. We are not looking too far. It is the not first time that we are touring West Indies. So we know what the conditions would be like and are mentally prepared for it."

After Afghanistan on Saturday, India will play South Africa the next day.

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