The Indian team arrived two days late with only 10 players last night for the U18 Women Softball Asia Cup 2023 at the Pingtan Softball Stadium, in China, which began on Tuesday.
Another six players and another coach, are expected to arrive tonight.
India Grouped together with favourites Japan, Chinese Taipei and Singapore in Group B, had missed their first two matches against Japan and Singapore, which was forfeited with a 7-0 loss.
This morning, although India had arrived and were ready to play Chinese Taipei, in their third and final Group round robin fixture, the match was still forfeited, with a 7-0 loss, as they had failed to show up for the earlier matches.
However, Chinese Taipei was gracious enough to accept to play India in a warm-up match, as India had travelled so far to be here and spent a great deal of money in the process. In the match, Chinese Taipei won 9-0 in five innings on run ahead rule.
India, however, will be allowed to play two more matches, in the placement round tomorrow and Saturday.
Softball India Association (SIA) secretary-general Lekh Raj Maurya, who is here as the team leader, said that they tried their best to be here on time0 but had visa and for travel ticket issues.
“Besides visa and air ticket problems, we also had problems raising the money to come here,” said Maurya.
“Although we had confirmed our participation early, we could not get the visas early because internal procedures where we have to go through some process and can only apply four days before we travel through an appointed travel agent.
“We also could not get tickets for all on one flight.
“Then we had financial issues where we had to wait for sponsors, contribution from our affiliates, while some players also sought sponsorship or raised on their own to travel.”
Maurya said they had to spend over US$30,000.00 for the team to come Pingtan.
Asked why they went ahead to travel, when they were arriving late for the tournament and missing out matches, Maurya said it was for the players to gain experience as part of the association’s plans to develop the game in India.
However, Maurya also admitted that some of the better players in the team, especially those who are poor, failed to make it for the trip, as they could not raise or have the money, as contribution for the trip here.
And it is no surprise that the team here in Pingtan look far from being a quality team, as the best players are not here.
SIA are keen to develop the game in India, but they have to look into better ways to manage their association and have a more comprehensive programme for the development of the game, rather just come out for tournaments despite financial difficulties.
Having said that, softball is indeed on the rise in India and their standard is slowly but surely taking the up graph.
In the later Group B match, Japan displayed why they are favourites and top ranked in Asia, when they thumped Singapore 24-0 showing no mercy in three innings.
Japan has all lined up for the final, in all probability with host China.
Japan now moves to the Super round topping their Group unbeaten, while Chinese Taipei joins them as the second placed with two wins and a loss (to Japan).
From Group A, China will head the group after their last match against win less Hong Kong in the evening to move to the Super round, while the second team to join them, as second placed team in the Group, will be decided between Korea and Philippines, when they clash in a do-or-die mission this afternoon.
India 0 Chinese Taipei 7 (match forfeited although India arrived and as they had missed two earlier Group matches. India fielded a team and played Chinese Taipei in a friendly and lost 0-9 loss)
Japan 24 Singapore 0
Korea v Philippines
China v Hong Kong
India 0 v Singapore 7 (match forfeited as India has not arrived)
Hong Kong 3 Korea 12
Japan 8 Chinese Taipei 0
China 11 Philippines 0
Philippines 7 Hong Kong 0
India 0 v Japan 7 (match forfeited as India failed to show-up)
Singapore 2 Chinese Taipei 15
China 10 Korea 0