They are two of the best in the world and it is time they showed it to the rest of Asia!
World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and double World record holder Gagan Narang will have a golden opportunity to provide a vibrant start to India's campaign at the Asian Games by proving their mastery in air rifle.
While Bindra, who has been slowly getting into form, reached 595 in the Commonwealth Games, Narang hit a high with a perfect 600 and a total of 703.6 that was better than his own World record.
Athens Olympic champion Zhu Qinan of China would be gunning for revenge after being pushed to the second spot and a flood of tears in the Beijing Olympics by Bindra, but the pressure would be more on the Chinese this time. Qinan has won the World Cup gold 10 times, but may find it tough to improve on his silver in the Doha Asiad.
Apart from the individual gold, India would also be in line for the team gold as it has Sanjeev Rajput to back Narang and Bindra.
Even China does not have such a strong trio as former World junior champion Cao Yifie and last year's Asian shooting junior champion Yu Jikang are not in the same league as World No. 5 Qinan.
The Chinese are bound to get a head start in the women's air rifle event that is scheduled to precede the men's event.
With the world's top two shooters spearheading the Chinese challenge — World champion and World record holder Yi Siling and Wu Liuxi, the three-time World Cup final champion — China may reach gold medal No. 150 in shooting in the Asian Games on Saturday.
The Chinese women would also be reaching their 100th medal in shooting at the Games.
In shooting, China has accounted for 149 of the 337 gold medals in the Asian Games so far.
That is the highest number China has won in a sport in the Asiad, below the record of 237 gold medals won by Japan in swimming.
China had won five gold medals at the Beijing Olympics and is all set to make a big sweep of the 44 gold medals at stake here, half of them allocated to team competition.
Actually, the competition is only once for both individual and team events and the qualification scores count for team tabulation.
Gunning for six
Gagan Narang will figure in three events and gun for six medals. For someone who has won eight gold medals in two editions of the Commonwealth Games, the proud flag-bearer of the Indian contingent will be keen to improve on the individual bronze he won in rifle 3-position event in the last edition.
In contrast, the Indian women's air rifle team would not be that strong.
It does have World record holder and Olympic finalist Suma Shirur, but the Mumbaikar has not touched the form she showed while winning the Asian title.
Tejaswini Sawant, World champion in prone, has also not been in great form in air rifle and will have the inexperienced Kavitha Yadav for company.
The men's 50-metre free pistol, the other event scheduled for the day, will be a platform for double World champion Tomoyuki Matsuda of Japan to revel. He had won the air pistol and free pistol gold medals in the recent World championship in Munich with preliminary scores of 586 and 572 respectively.
Not his forte
Omkar Singh, triple gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games, gets an opportunity to enhance his reputation at the Asian level, but free pistol is not his forte.
Amanpreet Singh and Deepak Sharma will try to salvage something from the 50-metre range without the pressure of expectations that would invariably be placed on the shoulders of Bindra and Narang.
Keywords: Asian Games 2010