Casting aside the depression, dejection and deep sense of disappointment over a place on the podium at the Commonwealth Games, the Indian women are keen for a fresh start to their campaign in the hockey competition in the Asian Games here on Saturday.

No sport in India had to pass through such a traumatic phase as much as the women's national team before the CWG and earlier. It is unwarranted, and even impertinent, to discuss the details here.

Needs consistency

In the seven-team round-robin format, India requires a great deal of consistency, craft and combative acumen to take one of the top two places overcoming the challenges from China, Japan and Korea.

Surinder Kaur and her gallant girls with their coach, Sandeep Somesh, as the motivating factor, appear confident before they take on Malaysia on Saturday after both Korea and Japan finishes their opening rounds.

While the showing at the CWG was eminently forgettable, there have been some significant gains.

The silver at the Asia Cup, which gave them an automatic place in the World Cup ahead of Korea, the drawn match against Germany in the four-nation event and the win over China in the Champions Trophy are deeds that cannot be ignored.

Admittedly, the challenges are manifold. Apart from the effort to retain the podium finish at the last edition in Doha, the team has to strive harder to go up at least by one step.

The squad has a blend of experience and expertise, which needs to be summoned in generous measure.

Surinder Kaur, Jasjeet Handa, Saba Anjum constitute the component of experience while the striker Rani Ramphal symbolises the strength in the attack.

If she regains the touch displayed at the World Cup in Rosario, then she is sure to be among the goals from day one.

In line for a hat-trick and with a shining record in the international competitions, China, on home turf, is not easy to beat. With as astute a coach as Kim Ryul at the helm, China is a safe bet for the gold.

In the five appearances so far since 1990, China has claimed two gold medals in succession (2002, 2006). Korea perhaps has the best record; four gold and two silver medals in seven editions. There was an element of shock when it finished off the podium at Doha in 2006.

The golden days of Lim Gae Sook and Cho Eung Jung may be over but the Koreans continue to strive to regain the gold.

Japan is yet to strike the top spot despite figuring in all seven editions. The silver at Doha underlined the element of consistency in medal winning streak: three silvers and an equal number of bronzes from 1986. All is set to roll on Saturday at the Aoti hockey field.

Saturday's matches: Japan v Kazakhstan (1 p.m. IST), Korea v Thailand (3 p.m.); India v Malaysia (5 p.m.).

More In: Hockey | Sport