Indian women's team, led by Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu, will have to punch above its weight to salvage any hopes of a medal after being handed a tough draw in the badminton event at the 18th Asian Games.
Indian women's team, which won a bronze medal in the last edition at Incheon after finishing third, will face top seeds Japan in the quarterfinals after receiving a first-round bye. The team events begin on Sunday.
India are placed in the top half of the draw along with Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia and Japan, while China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei are placed in the bottom half.
Japan, who clinched the Uber Cup title this year, boasts of top singles players such as 2017 World Champion Nozomi Okuhara and world No 2 Akane Yamaguchi, besides current world no 1 and world no 2 pairs of Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota and Misaki Matsutoma and Ayaka Takahashi respectively.
A depleted India, without the services of Sindhu and doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa, were outclassed 0-5 in the Uber Cup in May this year.
Though India will be fielding a full strength team this year, it would take an extraordinary effort to outwit the Japanese women's team, a result that would assure of a medal.
In the men's team event, India, led by Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, are likely to have an easy first-round outing as they take on minnows Maldives in the opening clash.
If India can cross the first hurdle, they will take on hosts Indonesia, who received a first-round bye, in the quarter-finals.
Top seeds China will also head straight into the quarter-finals, while defending champions Korea will start their campaign against Thailand on Sunday.
Japan and Malaysia will cross swords in a mouth-watering clash, while Pakistan will face Nepal in another opening round match.
Indonesia boasts of good players such as Jonatan Christie and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in singles, while their doubles line-up comprise of world no 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and world no 9 Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto.
The Asian Games team competition is a knock-out affair with a best-of-five format comprising three singles and two doubles matches.
Once the team finals are over, the draw for the individual event will be carried out on August 22.
India thrash Bangladesh in hockey warm-up game
The Indian men's hockey team crushed Bangladesh 7-1 in a practice match to enter the 18th Asian Games on a confident note.
India are the defending champions, having won gold in the 2014 edition at Incheon, South Korea, and chief coach Harendra Singh and skipper PR Sreejesh have already expressed their desire to win a second successive yellow metal.
A win here will secure them qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and act as morale booster ahead of the year-end World Cup at home, where Harendra is eyeing a podium.
"In the last couple of years we have proved to the world that India is back on the hockey map. We are number five in the world but by the end of the year we want to be in top 3 in the world," Harendra had said.
While there was plenty to cheer about on the field, the situation was not exactly the same off it for Sreejesh, who is worried about the unprecedented flood in his native Kerala.
Disappointing outing for India in basketball and handball
Indian women's basketball team opened its campaign at the 18th Asian Games on a disappointing note, losing 61-79 to Kazakhstan in the Group A preliminary round.
The Indian women were outclassed in the first two quarters (13-18, 12-19) before they tried to make a comeback with a 21-22 score in the third quarter but Kazakhstan outwitted their rivals 20-15 in the fourth quarter.
They will face Chinese Taipei on Sunday, before taking on Unified Korea and hosts Indonesia on August 20 and August 23 respectively in the basketball 5x5 preliminary group A matches.
In handball, the Indian men's team also had a dismal outing today as they went down 29-40 to Iraq in a Group D preliminary match.
Deepak Ahlawat (8) and Karamjeet Singh (6) were the top-scorer for India but it was not enough as they were outclassed 13-18 in the first period and then 16-22 in the second period.
The Indian men's team had lost to Chinese Taipei (28-38) on August 13, before losing 25-32 to Bahrain on August 15.
Annu Rani, Monika Chaudhary dropped from Asian Games squad
Javelin thrower Annu Rani and 1500m runner Monika Chaudhary were dropped from the Asian Games squad after their performance in the confirmatory trials were found to be unsatisfactory by the selection committee, Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
The selection committee, which met under the chairmanship of Olympian GS Randhawa at AFI office also asked shot putter Naveen Chikara to attempt one more trial on Monday.
Naveen was supposed to travel to Jakarta late tonight but is now been asked to stay back.
"Annu Rani and Monika Chaudhary were not selected as their performance in the confirmatory trials was not found to be satisfactory by the selection committee," said CK Valson, AFI secretary.
The confirmatory trials were held on August 15 at different venues.
Meanwhile, from the 400m group currently camping in Czech Republic, Anu Raghvan clocked 57.43m in 400m hurdles confirmatory trials to book a berth for Asian Games.
The AFI qualifying guideline for 400m hurdles was 57.52s.
Saritaben Gaikwad, who is already a part of the Indian 4x400m women's relay team, also gave a trial for 400m hurdles and clocked 57.04s.
All the other athletes who cleared the confirmatory trials are high jumper Chetan B and 50km race walker Sandeep Kumar, long jumpers Neena Pintoo and Nayana James, discus thrower Sandeep Kumari, Jauna Murmuin (400m hurdles) and Nirmala (400m).