India captain MS Dhoni has respect for Bangladesh

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DHAKA // MS Dhoni, the India captain, will not be underestimating Bangladesh when his tournament favourites take on the home side in tomorrow's opening match of the World Cup.

"I am expecting a good contest because Bangladesh is a good side and has the benefit of home support," Dhoni said of the match in Mirpur, where spinners are expected to be key and where India want revenge for a painful World Cup defeat four years ago.

Bangladesh scored a shock win over India in a group game at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, triggering an early exit for the 1983 world champion.

Anxious to make amends, the India captain believes his team are in good shape ahead of tomorrow's game.

"Quite a few players are the same (from the 2007 team), but we are in a better frame of mind. We have performed well over the last two years and familiar conditions give us an advantage in this tournament," Dhoni said.

"For us, the World Cup has already started with the practice games, in which we have picked up intensity."

Dhoni said spin would be a crucial factor and was also looking for the squad to show their strength in depth.

"Spinners will play a major role and it is important that someone like Yuvraj Singh also performs well for us because we need to fill up the fifth bowler's slot," he said.

India has picked three specialist spinners for the tournament in Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla. It also has support slow bowlers in Yuvraj, Virender Sehwag and Yusuf Pathan.

Though he has an impressive spin attack to choose, Dhoni was also wary of the Bangladesh spinners.

"They have three specialist left-arm spinners, apart from some part-timers and we have to play them well," he said of a trio of left-arm slow bowlers - captain Shakib Al Hasan, the experienced Abdur Razzak and the upcoming Suhrawadi Shuvo.

For his part, Shakib was looking forward to unleashing his bowlers on the former world champions.

"Our spinners have been bowling well and are going to be important on slow pitches here," he said.

"We know that the crowd is expecting us to win. But the Indian team has improved a lot since 2007. Though there are several players from that team here, the combination is different and the way they are performing has made a difference."

He was also keen to play down the backdrop of Bangladesh's memorably victory four years ago.

"We are happy with our preparations but are taking it as just another game. I would say that our bowlers are bowling well, batting is consistent and fielding has improved. We have to play six games and have to improve ourselves, do the right things," he added.

Shakib, who considers the win over India at the World Cup as his most memorable moment, said he considered all Indian batsmen as dangerous.

"We are targeting all of them, if you ask me," he said.

India are considered favourites in the tournament largely because of their batting line-up led by Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj, Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan - all considered match-winners.

India and Bangladesh are in Group B along with England, South Africa, West Indies, Ireland and Netherlands. Four teams advance to the quarter-finals.