NEW YORK: Pakistan bowed out of the World Baseball Classic qualifying on Friday but confident the tournament has been a major milestone for the development of the sport in the cricket-mad nation.
Field hockey and cricket are Pakistan´s two major sports but with baseball returning to the Olympics in 2020, the country is hoping to take part.
The Pakistani team competed in North America for the first time this week, taking part in the qualifiers of the WBC at MCU Park in New York.
Pakistan were eliminated Friday with a 14-0 preliminary round loss to Great Britain, who advanced to the semi-finals.
They lost both their games to Brazil and Great Britain by a combined score of 24-0, but their inspiring play made them the darlings of the tournament.
“This was our first step,” said Pakistan manager Syed Fakhar Ali Shah.
“We are ready for the second step now. We´ve never been here before and we never played against those professional players.
“Now they know the difference between them and those players. That will help us a lot and help our youth in Pakistan.”
And Pakistan is developing the sport from within and doing a pretty good job of cultivating homegrown talent by converting cricket players to the sport.
They have a third baseman who can hit the ball over the fence and a right handed pitcher who throws balls at more than 90 mph. Pakistan is the only team competing at the tournament that doesn´t have a player born or raised in the US.
Baseball is still in the infancy stages in Pakistan, where leagues are few and far between and games are played on soccer fields.
The sports got its start in the country in 1992, when Syed Khawar Shah founded the Pakistan Federation Baseball. They played on a rudimentary baseball diamond at the US Embassy and the coaches main instructional tool were American baseball videos.