Given their unprecedented success in recent past, expectations are high from Indian shuttlers to chase down that elusive Asian Games badminton gold and return from Hangzhou with their best-ever haul.
The Indian badminton players will begin their campaign with the team championships in Hangzhou from Thursday.
India have bagged just 10 badminton medals in Asian Games history, including three individual singles medals, three men's team bronze, two women's team bronze and one medal each in men's doubles and mixed doubles.
Since the 1986 edition at Seoul, India have not won a medal in the men's team event but have a great chance of breaking the jinx this time as they head into the tournament as Thomas Cup champions, an epic feat achieved in May 2022.
The core of the team remains the same with HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in good form and the Indian team would hope the rub of the green also goes their way when it begins campaign on Thursday.
However, it will be easier said than done as they will have powerhouses such as China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia in the competition.
"The team is looking good. It is the same team that won the Thomas Cup, so we are going as world champions. I think the players who are playing against us know that it is not easy (to defeat India), as we can beat any team in the world," Lakshya Sen told PTI.
Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu is the only one to have come close to a gold medal in the continental championships when she signed off with a silver at the last edition at Jakarta.
Besides Sindhu, Saina Nehwal's bronze in Jakarta remains the only other individual medal in women's singles, while Syed Modi was the only one to win a bronze in men's singles.
With Indians performing exceptionally well in the last few years, expectations are high from world championships bronze medallist HS Prannoy and Commonwealth Games gold medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.
While Prannoy earned a maiden world championships bronze in Copenhagen after winning the Malaysia Masters and a final finish at Australian Open, Satwik-Chirag are the Asian Champions and have won titles in Indonesia, Korea and Switzerland.
While Prannoy will be brimming with confidence, Satwik-Chirag will be hungry to get back in the podium after missing out of a world championships medal at Copenhagen last month.
SINDHU IS LOW ON CONFIDENCE
Sindhu, on the other hand, has always delivered in the big-ticket events but she is coming into the Hangzhou Games low on confidence following an indifferent season post her recovery from an ankle injury last year.
Sindhu has made early exit at least 10 times this season, her only final finish being the Spain Masters in April and it would be an incredible achievement if she can turn it around at the Binjiang Gymnasium.
Kidambi Srikanth, a 2021 world championships silver medallist and a vital cog in India's Thomas Cup winning team, too has blown hot and cold and will hope to be third time lucky and add an Asian Games medal to his cabinet after two failed attempts.
Nine years back, the Indian women's team had returned with a bronze medal from Incheon but this time it is a young team, which lacks the experience of playing the top brass.
While doubles pair of Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly are the next highest-ranked players in the team after Sindhu, it will be an uphill task to expect Ashmita Chaliha, Anupama Upadhyay and Malvika Bansod to tame the likes of An Se Young, Tai Tzu Ying or Akane Yamaguchi.
Among others, Dhruv Kapila/MR Arjun, Ashwini Ponnappa/Tanisha Crasto, and Rohan Kapoor/Sikki Reddy and Sai Pratheek/Tanisha Crasto are the other pairs who will be in fray at Hangzhou.
Badminton will get underway with team events, followed by singles and doubles events on October 2.