Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara has opened up on the devastating events that took place in Lahore when Sri Lanka visited Pakistan in 2009 for a Test series. With the first Test ending in Karachi, the two Asian sides moved to Lahore for the second. The terrorist attack unleashed on the tourists happened on day three of the second Test when they were on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium.
By the time, the third day of the game began, Sri Lanka were on the box seat, having scored 606 in the first innings against Pakistan. The hosts finished the second day at 110-1. Twelve gunmen fired on the Sri Lankan while they were seated in the bus with some top players have suffered severe injuries and undergone bleeding at that time. The rubber was eventually called off due to the magnitude of the situation.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Kumar Sangakkara remembered how they all were seated in the bus and suddenly their masseur announced that some men are shooting the bus. During the course of that, Kumar Sangakkara admitted that they fired grenades, rocket launchers while the team members were on top of each other. The left-handed batsman said that they miraculously survived.
“We were having our usual banters on the bus, people talking about what you are going to do this evening. One of our fast bowlers said ‘wickets are so flat here, I am going to get a stress fracture or something. I hope a bomb goes off, so we could go home’. And 20 seconds later, this happens.
“Our team’s masseur at the time was in the front, we heard the gun shots, we thought they were firecrackers. He got up, and said ‘get down, they are shooting the bus’. Dilshan was also in front, I was more central. Mahela was right at the back, Murali was sitting right behind me so that he can annoy Thilan Samaraweera. I remember Tharanga Paranavitana, the opener, was in front.
“All hell broke loose, we hid at the aisle of the bus, on top of each other, and then the shooting started. They shot the bus as many times they could, and threw grenades, and fired a rocket launcher. And for some reason, I don’t know why, we survived.” the Matale born said.
“Unfortunately, most of the security personnel guarding us, died and that was tragic” : Kumar Sangakkara
The 42-year old further revealed that several players were seriously injured including himself, Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Ajantha Mendis and one of their support staff named, Paul Farbrace. He admitted that Thilan’s injuries were quite severe while Tharanga’s wounds weren’t as serious. They all were being prepared to be taken to the hospital to attend to their injuries. Kumar Sangakkara lamented the inefficiency of the security personnel and that most of them had passed away.
“Thilan was injured, I got hit on the shoulder with a lot of shrapnel. Ajantha Mendis was injured. Tharanga Paranavitana gets up bleeding from his chest and collapses saying he’s been shot. We hear ‘oohs and aahs’ from all around the bus. Paul Farbrace has an iron spike through his hand, so we get into the ground, which is 500m from there, very rudimentary security of course. Unfortunately, most of the security personnel guarding us, died and that was tragic.
They tried to shoot the bus driver, missed him by a couple of inches. He was the hero, we survived probably because he was left alive to drive us through that. Everyday he used to take four attempts to get through the narrow gate, but this time, he drove in straight into the ground. We get off.
Tharanga Paranavitana, we thought had died for some reason, feels his back, and says, I dont have a hole in my back, so I think I am okay and walks off the park. Thilan is bleeding everywhere, he’s been shot very badly.
He gets taken by ambulance to hospital. Ajantha Mendis and I were due to get in the next ambulance, but then they were shooting next to ambulance, so we decided we would stay here.
Being Sri Lanka Cricket team, there comes a joke from the other side, and a bit of laughter, and everyone started talking, chatting, joking. At no time, we felt sorry for ourselves. No one thought ‘why us.” Sangakkara concluded.