Hangzhou, China, September 19, 2023: India’s first-ever appearance in cricket at the Asian Games was welcomed by Indian Deputy Chef de Mission Ravinder Chaudhry, who said the world’s most populous country would be looking for gold medal glory at Hangzhou.
Many of India’s 1.4 billion population will be following their heroes in the Asian Games T20 cricket competition, which takes place at the Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Cricket Field.
“Our hopes are high for cricket, both the men’s and women’s teams, winning gold medals at the Hangzhou Asian Games. That would be a magnificent achievement as this is the first time India are playing cricket at the Asian Games,” Chaudhry said, speaking after the Chefs de Mission briefing at the Hangzhou Asia Games Village on Tuesday.
India’s men’s team will be captained by dashing 26-year-old batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad and will be liberally peppered by a number of popular IPL (Indian Premier League) stars like left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored a century on his Test debut against the West Indies, and the swashbuckling Rinku Singh.
“The men’s team will not have its leading players due to the World Cup. It will be the same with the other sides, too. But, even without our top players, we have a very strong side, and I’m quite hopeful of a gold medal,” Chaudhry commented.
The women’s cricket competition at the Hangzhou Asian Games began on Tuesday with the preliminaries taking place. The big teams like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will join at the quarterfinals stages in both the men’s and women’s competitions. The women’s final is on September 25 and the men's on October 7.
The Indian women’s team will be led by Smriti Mandhana after Harmanpreet Kaur, who was initially supposed to lead the team, missing two matches after being suspended by the International Cricket Council for her outburst in an one-day international against Bangladesh.
Chaudhry, who is also the Secretary General of the Indian Athletic Federation, was confident the country would achieve its best medal haul at the Asian Games. India won 70 medals including 16 gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.
“We will definitely have better results than at previous Asian Games. We are strong in almost every sport we are taking part in. And of course we are hoping to do well in athletics,” he added.
India is fielding a squad of 655 athletes in 41 of the 61 disciplines. Olympic and World men’s javelin champion Neeraj Chopra will be one of five Olympic medallists from India in action at Hangzhou. India’s badminton queen PV Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, boxer Lovlina Borgohain, wrestler Bajrang Punia and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu are also in the fray.