ISLAMABAD - Pakistan baseball head coach Musaddaq Hanif termed his teams’ chances in the upcoming 12th West Asian Baseball Cup 2015 very bright.

Talking to The Nation, Musaddaq said: “Five international teams including arch-rivals India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq have already confirmed their participation in the event starting from February 23 here at Pakistan Sports Complex. Pakistan is defending champion. The matter of the fact is that we had managed to win seven championships on the trout and aiming to win the eighth as well. We had also won twice when it was held as Asian Baseball Championship.”

Musaddaq added: “We have never lost the title since 2006 and we have assembled a very balanced - mixture of old and youth team, currently 30 players are in the training camp started at Pakistan Sports Complex from 27th of last month and the camp would continue till the championship starts. Highly experienced Umair Imdad Bhatti will lead the team in the championship.”

“We have likes of nine international players at our disposal for the international event, while two players have also played at international level. We have inducted 10 fresh faces, five from Army and rest of five were picked from the recently-concluded national baseball championship. We have selected seven players from Higher Education Commission (HEC), nine from Wapda, three from Police and one each from KP and Punjab. We have also invited a few young talented players for the camp to help them groom well,” he said.

Musaddaq said although they finished sixth in the 17th Asian Games played in Korea, yet one must understand three world class teams Japan, Korea and Taiwan were contesting in that event. “We managed to collect 10 points from the event. We have services of three main pitchers namely M Usman, Adil Sardar and Tariq Nadeem besides nine quality batters. We will depend on these players heavily to help Pakistan retain the title.” When asked about Bangladesh and Nepal’s absence in the event, Musaddaq replied: “Bangladesh has just formed baseball team and they don’t have enough players to represent the country in such a high-profile event, while Nepal has some domestic issues, otherwise, they were very much interested in coming and playing in Pakistan.”

The head coach said despite non-availability of separate baseball grounds, the boys had always done wonders for the country in international events. “Soon after taking over, I put all international experience in the players and results are quite satisfactory. It is my request to the government to just provide baseball players a separate ground, where they may practice and it will be a great help to the national cause, as this team has potential to win laurels for the country.”

“We participated in the Asian Games on self-finance basis and even bought tickets from our own pockets. The players have jobs and other facilities, so we don’t want much from the government as our president former IGP Punjab Shaoukat Javed and secretary Khawar Shah are doing wonders for the baseball players, so we just want Punjab or federal government to allocate a separate baseball ground for the national team. It will be a great help by the government and I can assure results will start to come beyond expectations.”

“Last time, Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) just gave us tracksuits to participate in the Asian Games, but now situation is completely different. The PSB has provided the federation excellent accommodation and top class meal at Allama Iqbal hostel and I am very thankful to deputy director hostels Malik Imtiaz Hussain, who is taking keen interest in providing best possible facilities to the players and we are quite satisfied with all the arrangements and facilities. I once again request IPC Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada and PSB DG Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera to take our ground case seriously and ensure the ground for baseball team will be announced either in Punjab or even in the capital, so players may completely focus on the job ahead,” Musaddaq concluded.