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Major League Baseball hopes to break through in cricket-mad India

Baseball is one of several sports seeking a slice of the huge Indian market and its similarity with cricket,

Major League Baseball

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 Aug 2020 10:16 AM GMT

NEW DELHI: Baseball is one of several sports seeking a slice of the huge Indian market and its similarity with cricket, often called a religion in the country of 1.4 billion, could give it a head start, Major League Baseball (MLB) officials hope.

MLB spent a decade and half studying the market before opening a sixth international office in New Delhi last year and was encouraged by the throwing, hitting and catching techniques that link America's pastime and India's obsession.

"Cricket is such a big sport here. So catching, throwing and swing of the bat come very naturally," Ryo Takahashi, who heads MLB's business and commercial operations in India, said.

"The sheer size of this country, the population -- to be able to hook India to baseball, that definitely boosts the sport worldwide."

Takahashi, perhaps wisely, said the plan is not to try to supplant cricket in India.

"We're not trying to bring baseball as an alternative, or as a replacement, by any means," he said.

"Anything new, whether it's music or restaurants, it's exciting. So new sport is something that might resonate. Within that, if there's some sort of familiarity, it's easier for people to relate. I think it's a good mix, it's a perfect mix."

The National Basketball Association (NBA), which opened an office in India in 2011, staged two pre-season games in Mumbai in October last year.

MLB, which has previously played games in Mexico, Japan and Australia, made a foray into Europe last year when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox took their rivalry to London.

Takahashi said it would be premature to do something similar in India, where MLB has attracted more than 30,000 school students in 320 workshops since opening its office. Agencies

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