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How cricket is helping the Pakistan baseball team at the 2018 Asian Games

Aadya Sharma
FEATURED WRITER
News
1.36K   //    28 Aug 2018, 20:53 IST

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Pakistan baseball's first Asian Games appearance was in 2010

"We are all cricketers, but we love and play baseball".

For Syaed Babar Ali Khan, the coach of the Pakistan baseball team, currently participating at the Asian Games in Indonesia, the love for both sports is evident, but the American sport holds preference over its much more popular counterpart.

Pakistan's baseball teams could be one of the top-ranked teams in South Asia, but their foray into the sport has been a fascinating one.

While the modern version developed in the United States was brought to the country by the immigrants, its older forms were based on the bat-and-ball games of the 18th century in the United Kingdom.

And the current team is using its love for cricket, and the skills acquired playing it, to make its name in the less-popular sport in the country.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, bowler-cum-pitcher Ihsan Ullah admitted that he took some time to get accustomed to the difference in gameplay.

"There was some difficulty when I came from cricket to baseball because in cricket the ball moves after it hits the ground but in baseball, it happens in the air".

"At first, it was tough but I got a hang of it".

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The sport made its way to the country 28 years ago, when the secretary of the sports board, Syed Khawar Shah, got to know that the game would be one of the participating sports in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and the torch was carried forward by his son, Syed Fakhar Ali Shah.

He played the sport in the 1990s and went on to become the President of the Pakistan Baseball Federation earlier this year.

Back in 2016, when Fakhar Ali Shah was the manager, the team had featured in the World Baseball Qualifiers in Brooklyn, with most of its players using actual wooden bats and catching gear for the first time. Their stay wasn't noteworthy, with defeats to Brazil and Great Britain on back-to-back days.

The start to the tournament for the current team hasn't been a great one, losing to Japan and China, but a victory against Thailand has given them something to cheer about.

Hopefully, their enthusiasm will help achieve further glory and make the sport much more popular in the country, and Asia.

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Aadya Sharma
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