Though it is the women's hockey team that has a better record with three medals in four appearances while the men have just one in three, the focus in hockey has been on the men's team.
So, it is understandable that there is a cautious streak in Terry Walsh, more pronounced than ever, especially after the World Cup, where the Indian was certainly worth more than the ninth place it came back with. Despite knowing that and acknowledging it with a few nods but no words, the former Australia international, is hopefully also learning the ways and means of the Indian sports officialdom.
Walsh 'guardedly' said that the first target is a semi-final berth. Wise, indeed, for he knows that India failed to make the semifinals in 2006 at Melbourne and did not even qualify for the 2002 edition. Going back further, India made the semis and then lost the bronze medal match to hosts Malaysia in 1998.
Four years ago, when India hosted the Games, they made the finals, but were whipped 8-0 by the Australians, who have won the gold on each of the four occasions hockey has figured on the programme.
The Australians on the strength of their 7-1 trouncing of the Dutch at the World Cup this year, would have been overwhelming favourites, but with seven-time World player of the year, Jamie Dwyer having been dropped, and the coach, Ric Charlesworth calling it a day, there may be a slight crack in the door that teams like England, India and even New Zealand may want to exploit.
Recently, Dwyer said he was keen to see an Australia-India final. Dwyer was surely being very generous considering the presence of England (World No. 5) and New Zealand (No. 6). India are No. 9 and not too far behind are South Africa at No. 12 and Malaysia at No. 13.
Walsh repeated what he has been saying, "The first target is to ensure enough points and make the semi-finals and then we take it from there. Our rhythm and skill has been good but penalty corner conversion will be the key component."
Rupinder Pal is recovering from a minimal adductor problem but VS Raghunath, he said has been doing well in training sessions.
Indian captain Sardar Singh said, "We too would like to see Australia in the finals with us. While we had lost the match against Australia in the World Cup, the second half of the game cannot be overlooked, as our defence made a significant comeback in restricting Australia's goal scoring spree. Our defence line-up is in place and now it is time for the forwards to delivertheir best."
He added, "The team is showing major signs of improvement and the players' is morale is on a high as we took on England in the recent practice match and won by 3-2."
The women have a better record than men at the Commonwealth Games including the gold in 2002 at Manchester. The women also won a bronze in 1998 and a silver in 2006, but at home in 2010, they ended fifth after losing out on the semi-final berth to South Africa on goal difference.
The women's team's chief coach Neil Hawgood, said, "While the team is young but the kind of play that they showed in the recent Malaysian Tour gives me reason to be proud of them and confidence that we will deliver our best performance here."
He added, "The team is feeling quite confident. We are now narrowing our focus to the finer points that will prove to be crucial. Our Penalty Corner work is progressing, with some good results in Malaysia."
Hawgood added, "
Captain Ritu Rani added, "Chief Coach Neil Hawgood has designed various strategies for the team and we are polishing them during our training sessions. The recent success on the Malaysian Tour has helped in boosting up the confidence."
The women's team is ranked No. 13 in the world and in this field, Australia (No. 2), New Zealand (No. 4), England (No. 6) and South Africa (No. 11) are ranked higher than India.
The women are clubbed in Group A with New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.
The men's team is grouped with Australia, South Africa, Scotland and Wales. The first men's match is against Wales on Friday, while the women play Canada on Thursday.