Guangzhou: Indian men are gunning for their sixth straight gold medal in Asian Games kabaddi while the women are looking to add another title to their continental crown in the South Asian sport when the competition begins at the Nansha Gymnasium here on Monday.
The reigning world men's champions, who have won the gold every time since the discipline was introduced in the Asian Games 20 years ago in Beijing, appear to carry too many heavy weapons for their opponents to breach.
The gold medal favourites, to be led by raider Rakesh Kumar, would be challenged in the main by arch-rivals Pakistan, the silver medallists four years ago. Rakesh was the Indian captain in the last Asian Games in Doha as well as in the two World Cups in 2004 and 2007.
Iran, who had trained together with Pakistan in September, are also eyeing a podium finish after finishing fourth in Doha. They still have their top player and veteran Mostafa Noudehi.
The other teams in the seven-strong men's field are Bangladesh, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.
Indian contingent is hoping that the country's meagre gold medal tally of two after nine days' of competition in the Asian Games would be given a boost by the men's kabaddi team as well as the women's side who though are not the firm favourites for the title.
Women's kabaddi is making its debut in the Asian Games after being part of the continental championship and Asian Beach Games and it will be played on a smaller court to quicken the pace.
Asian women's champions India are certainly the front runners for the gold in the eight-team championship following their 43-22 and 74-27 thrashing of Iran and Japan in the continental event in 2008, but the field appears more open than the men's.