LAHORE: India which has remained reluctant to maintain sporting relations with its traditional rival Pakistan mainly due to political differences for many years, however, has accepted the invitation to send its baseball team to Pakistan for next year’s South Asian Games (SAG).

Though several decisions for hosting the SAG by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) are yet to be taken, including the dates and venues.

However, a letter of consent by the Baseball Softball Federation of India received on Monday by Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB) was the first from India showing interest in taking part in the SAG.

Talking to Dawn, PFB president Fakhar Shah said he received the letter from India, adding similar letters would be received soon from Sri Lanka and Nepal showing consent for the games.

Fakhar said over his telephonic conversation with Nepal and Sri Lanka besides India, all the countries were ready to feature in the games. “Now the letters [in this regard] will be received soon,” he said.

Fakhar said as at least four countries’ participation was essential to include a discipline in the SAG, adding baseball now had a strong case for inclusion in the games.

“Pakistan is a baseball giant in South Asia and if the POA and the PSB include both men and women, my federation guarantees gold medals for Pakistan [in SAG],” he added.

Underlining that Pakistan had obtained fifth place in Asia while in South Asia it was on top, Fakhar hoped the POA would try its best to include baseball, considering the national interest.

“As a team game, baseball will have a good number of points [at SAG] so it will help Pakistan claim the overall trophy,” he highlighted.

He further said it was ironic that despite having the potential and being the host of the 2004 SAF Games, baseball was not included by Pakistan.

“Pakistan directly qualified for the 2022 Asian Games [baseball event] being held in Hangzhou, China, still the PSB has not set up a training camp,” he regretted.

“Pakistan will face world’s top three countries — Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — in the Asian Games. For this reason, the PFB wanted an early camp under foreign coaches to prepare a better team which could compete well against the giants of the game.”

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2022

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