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Asian Games 2018: A useful guide to baseball, softball and paragliding events to be featured at Indonesia event

Baseball

India has embraced American fast food, its music and Hollywood movies but baseball, one of the most popular sports in the US, has failed to find many takers in India. The sport resembles cricket in many ways but has its own distinct rules. A baseball game is played by two teams, each consisting of nine players. These two teams take turns batting and fielding.

The aim of the batting team is to score as many runs as possible by hitting a ball while the fielding team tries to prevent the runs and look to get the batters out as cheaply as possible. Each team gets to bat for nine innings and the team with the most runs after these nine innings is declared the winner. Each inning of a batting team lasts till three of their players are out and once the three players are out, the fielding team comes out to bat.

 Asian Games 2018: A useful guide to baseball, softball and paragliding events to be featured at Indonesia event

Representational image. Reuters

A baseball field is shaped like a diamond with four stations – first base, second base, third base and the home plate. The aim of the batter, who is positioned at the home plate, is to hit the ball hurled at him by the pitcher and complete a run. The throw of the pitcher is called a pitch, which is equivalent to a delivery in cricket. A run is scored when the batter runs from the home plate and touches each of the three bases and returns to the home plate safely before getting out. This is called a home run.

A batter can also score a home run if he hits the ball over the outfield – similar to a six in cricket. The batting team will have a batter who is facing the delivery from the pitcher along with three other runners, called the baserunners, positioned in each of the three bases. During the process of scoring a run, while the batter needs to move from the home plate to the first base, the runner who was positioned in the first base needs to run from here to the second base while the runner in the second base needs to go to the third and similarly the runner in the third needs to move to the home plate. While attempting a run, no two runners can be at the same base at the same time.

A batter can get out in many ways. One of the ways is through a strikeout. The aim of the batter is to swing his bat at the pitch (ball hurled by the pitcher). If the batter has swung his bat for three successive pitches and not connected with the ball, which fell within his strike zone, he will be declared out and his mode of dismissal is called a 'strike out'.

Like a cricket catch, he can be out if he hits the ball in the air and it is caught by any of the players in the fielding side. He can also be out if a fielder in possession of the ball touches the first base (similar to a run-out in cricket) or tags the batter before he reaches the first base. Tagging or tag out happens when a fielder who is holding the ball either in hand or glove touches the baserunner who is out of his base while attempting a run.

Baseball event in the 2018 Asian Games will feature only men's teams. Japan, Chinese Taipei and South Korea are the front-runners for the podium position.

Softball

While the essential rules of softball are the same as baseball, there are some major differences.

  • The ball used in softball is significantly bigger and each match consists of seven innings unlike the nine innings in baseball.
  • In baseball, the pitcher delivers the ball from an elevated area in the playing field called the pitcher's mound. But in softball, the pitcher and the batter are at the same level.
  • While the pitchers in baseball deliver balls overhand or in a sidearm position, softball pitchers throw the ball underhand.
  • In baseball, the pitching distance – the distance from where the pitcher throws the ball to the spot where the batter is stationed – is around 60 feet while in softball the pitching distance is 35-43 feet.
  • In baseball, the distance of the bases from each other is 90 feet while in softball the bases are around 60 feet apart.
  • Baseball bats are wider compared to softball bats.

In the Asian Games, only women's team will be vying for top honours in softball with Japan, Chinese Taipei and China expected to dominate.

Paragliding

If you are looking to get to the skies and hover over the beautiful landscapes below, then paragliding is for you. It is a growing adventure sport gaining popularity in India with Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh and Kamshet near Pune emerging as the paragliding hotspots in the country.

Paragliding involves flying a light, non-motorised equipment with an oval wing where the air currents help the paraglider to gain height. The pilot, who is buckled to a harness, can either sit or stand during the flight.

The sport is making its debut in this year's Asian Games and six gold medals will be at stake. Both men's and women's individual and team events will be staged in accuracy competitions. Men's and women's teams will also battle for supremacy in the cross-country contest.

Paragliding at the Asian Games. Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Accuracy event in paragliding is a test of precision in landing. The landing area is divided into concentric circles with the dead centre or the bull's eye being two centimetres in diameter. Circles are marked out at 0.5 meters, 2.5 meters and five meters around the landing. There is an electronic pressure sensitive landing pad which registers the first point of contact with the competitor's foot as it makes contact.

Pilots are scored on the distance in centimetres between their landing point and the bull's eye or the dead centre. Pilots aim to attain the lowest score, trying to land as close as possible to the dead centre. A pilot is marked zero, the perfect score, when he lands on the dead centre.

In the Asian Games, each contestant will undertake 12 rounds which will decide the winners in the individual category. For deciding winners in the men's team events, aggregate scores of five of the participants from the same country will be considered, while in the women's team event, scores of three of the contestants from the same country will be considered.

Cross country is the most popular paragliding event. At the Asian Games, the event will be held over five days and on each day, a competitor will have to a race on a course, with the exact route being decided before the commencement of the race by the race director.

In paragliding, a route is called a task and the basic aim of the contest is to complete the task and finish at the goal (finish line) in the fastest possible time. The tournament officials can either opt for a goal to race or a number of elapsed time speed races.

In the race to goal event, all the competitors start at the same time and the pilot who crosses the finish line in the fastest time gains most points. In elapsed time speed races, the competitors do not start together but their timings from the start to the finish are considered. All paragliders are connected to GPS and their flights are tracked to judge whether they have completed the entire task.

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Updated Date: Aug 06, 2018 15:58:50 IST