After the unexpectedly strong display in the Commonwealth Games, in which they garnered 12 medals, Indian track and field exponents would aim to prove that it was no flash-in-the-pan effort when they open their campaign in the Asian Games athletics events starting on Sunday.
With the shooters, who picked up 30 CWG medals including 12 of the golden hue, coming a cropper in these Games and returning with their tails tucked firmly between their legs, the pressure is on the athletics contingent, numbering 71 including 31 women, to salvage the country's pride that has taken a beating in these Games.
The huge athletics squad may be unwarranted going by the numbers, but a sizeable chunk is to make up the numbers for the four relay events in which the country's track and field selectors traditionally lay stress on.
All those who attained the medal podium, including star discus thrower Krishna Poonia who led an unforgettable clean sweep of all the medals by India in the Delhi CWG, have come here to try and prove their worth at these Games.
Traditionally in most track events, the CWG field is of higher quality while in the Asiads the field events are very tough with the Chinese, Koreans, Iranians, Japanese, Saudi Arabians and the former Soviet bloc countries which are now part of the Asian Games family – like Kazakhstan.
For example in women's triple jump, in which the Indian entrants are M Prajusha – who won a long jump silver in the CWG - and Mayookha Johny, the title-favourite is world no. 1 Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan.
Prajusha and Mayookha, who finished outside the medal bracket in CWG, are expected to face a tough time in the jump events in which the former Soviet bloc nation has a fleet of top women competitors, including Yulia Tarasova of Uzbekistan who took part in the Asian All Stars meet in Delhi in July.
The women's long jump, a straight final, is on November 23 while the triple jump is scheduled two days later, also a straight medal contest.
In the throwing events for women, a strong battle is expected to materialise between Poonia, compatriots Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil, who took the discus silver and bronze behind her in Delhi, and Song Aimin and Li Yenfeng of China.
The event is scheduled on the third day of the premier discipline, November 23. Renjith Maheswary, a triple jump bronze winner in Delhi's CWG, will have Li Yanxi of China and Roman Valiev of Kazakhstan to contend with in the straight final on November 26th.