Ifs and buts will accompany India's medal-winning chances in most sports disciplines at Doha. However, there is one event where India are sure to come back with a medal and most probably gold.
There has not been a single Asiad since 1990 — the year kabaddi was introduced in the Asian Games — when India have failed to win gold.
In all the four editions, India have virtually been unbeatable and that sense of invincibility still lights up the faces of the 12 strong men who form the — though with time, the competition has toughened.
According to experts, other teams have made rapid progress. An example of which is Iran, who took up the sport just four years back. At the last Asian Championships in 2005, they qualified for the final, losing to India in the final.
The improvement in other teams has meant the gap between them and India has decreased as was showcased during the South Asian Games in Colombo when India just managed to edge out Pakistan in the final, after having mauled them in the league phase.
But in spite of all that, India begin favourites when they open their campaign on December 2. In fact, in the last few years, particularly since the 2002 Games, there have been many changes.
At the Busan Games, a synthetic turf was used instead of the normal clay courts and that brought about the need for speed and agility. In short, it has made the game fast. From this edition onwards, the players will be wearing shoes when earlier they used to compete barefoot. India’s experience helps them against the stronger physique of others.
Team: Dinesh Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, N Gautam, Naveen Kumar, Vikas Kumar, Ramesh Kumar, P Sirsat, G Shetty, Manpreet Singh, RK Singh, Suresh, Sukhbeer.