Khanty Mansiysk: In what would be their second biggest test here, Indian men are set to take on Azerbaijan in the sixth round of the 39th chess Olympiad.
Barring a 3-1 loss to Russia, the Krishnan Sasikiran-led team has done well to win four matches and, at the half-way stage, stands joint fifth with eight points.
Hungary, Armenia and Georgia are in joint lead with 10 points from five matches, while Ukraine and Holland share the joint fourth spot with nine points apiece. India share the next spot with nine other teams.
Without the services of Vugar Gashimov, Azerbaijani look depleted but will still be the favourites on all four boards against India. For the crucial tie, India have decided to rest G N Gopal, and have brought in national champion B Adhiban, who will join the trio of Sasikiran, P Harikrishna and Surya Shekhar Ganguly.
Sasikiran has a tough job on hand as he meets a rejuvenated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov while Harikrishna will face Teimour Radjabov. Ganguly stands the best chance of turning the tables as he meets Rauf Mamedov, who has already lost one game. On the fourth board, Adhiban will have to tackle Gadir Guseinov.
In the women Olympiad being held simultaneously, the Indian eves will start as favourites against Italy. Out-of-form Nisha Mohota has been dropped because of his failure to win against weaker opponents.