ICC World Twenty20, St Lucia:
India 116-3 (14.5 overs) beat Afghanistan 115-8 (20 overs) by seven wickets
Afghanistan showed glimpses of talent but were ultimately outclassed by India
Afghanistan's hopes of a fairytale win in their opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 were denied as India cruised to a seven-wicket victory in St Lucia.
The minnows had stunned many to qualify for the tournament but managed just 115-8 after being put in, with Noor Ali (50) the only batsman to get going.
India lost Gautam Gambhir early on but never looked troubled in reply.
Murali Vijay (48) and Yuvraj Singh (23 not out) were on form as their target was reached with 31 balls to spare.
It was the result everyone expected, but Afghanistan certainly deserve credit after turning in a respectable display in the biggest game of their short history.
Coach Kabir Khan's side were playing the likes of Japan and Vanuatu in the lowest tier of the World Cricket League only two years ago and despite never troubling their mighty opponents on Saturday, they were never embarrassed.
Captain Nowroz Mangal said his team would take some valuable lessons from their first big-tournament experience.
"First of all, this is a big day for us, qualifying for and participating in the World Cup," Mangal said through a translator.
"This India team is the best team in the world, you can see that, but unfortunately we lost the toss and the ball was seaming a little bit in the morning.
They were not letting anything go when they were fielding and bowling and it is a really good sign to see them play the way they did
Mahendra Dhoni praises Afghanistan
"If we want to play the big teams more we have to learn to play the international game. We want more international games."
India, meanwhile, will be glad to have easily chalked up their first win after coming into the tournament without a single warm-up game. A much sterner test against South Africa awaits the 2007 champions on Sunday.
"It's important to win, obviously, and especially against teams like Afghanistan because you're expected to win and that puts you under more pressure," captain Mahendra Dhoni said.
"So I'm really happy with the win and also to see the kind of cricket that they played.
"They batted really well after losing the first three wickets, their middle order was really good.
"And they were not letting anything go when they were fielding and bowling and it is a really good sign to see them play the way they did."
In truth, Afghanistan's total was never likely to be enough to hold up a star-studded India line-up but there were glimpses of promise in their batting display - albeit after a shaky start.
Karim Sadiq lasted only four balls before wildly gloving behind off Ashish Nehra before the seamer removed teenage dangerman Mohammad Shahzad in almost identical fashion two overs later.
Captain Mangal failed to steady the ship, chipping tamely to mid-off to hand Ravindra Jadeja his first wicket of the tournament but any thoughts of a total mismatch were wiped away as Ali and Ashgar Stanikzai held firm.
Stanikzai provided most of the aggression, heaving Harbhajan over midwicket for one of three huge sixes, while Ali chipped away to bring up a well-deserved half-century from the top of the order.
But the opener fell to his very next ball after reaching the landmark when another gloved delivery was snaffled by wicketkeeper Dhoni and when Stanikzai top-edged to midwicket, the minnows had lost all of their momentum.
Indeed, Afghanistan's inexperience was cruelly illustrated in slipping from 97-3 to 115-8 in the space of three overs, meaning India were left with a comfortable target to chase in the sunshine.
Gambhir would have fancied his chances of a big score but fell early and cheaply when Mohammad Nabi took a sharp catch at cover off Dawlat Ahmadzai's medium pace.
Suresh Raina and Vijay were hardly rattled though and propelled the total towards 50 before the former was trapped in front by Samiullah Shenwari.
But that only served to bring Yuvraj to the crease and some predictably aggressive strokes punished the Afghan bowling.
India had passed three figures by the time Vijay was caught in the deep off Hamid Hassan and two successive straight sixes from captain Dhoni helped India wrap up an ultimately simple win.