Attack in Lahore shocks cricket world (Lead)

March 3rd, 2009 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The ghastly attack on Sri Lankan cricketers Tuesday in Lahore, reminiscent of the 1972 Munich Olympics carnage, has shocked the cricket world.
At least six Sri Lankan cricketers including captain Mahela Jayawaredene, his deputy Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana and Chaminda Vaas were injured when the team bus came under heavy attack from gunmen en route to the Gaddafi Stadium for the ongoing second Test match. Six escorting policemen were killed in the attack that took place near the Liberty Market crossing.

The attack on the Sri Lankan team, which filled in for a series after India refused to tour Pakistan post Mumbai attack, reminded cricketers of the way nine Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian group Black September during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Former Sri Lanka cricketer Aravinda D’Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya were shocked at the incident.

“It will surely affect Pakistan’s chances of hosting the 2011 World Cup,” said D’Silva.

Jayasuriya said that the priority of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) should be the safety of its players.

“Cricket has never been attacked in this manner. I have spoken to my team mates and they are safe and we want them immediately back in Sri Lanka,” said Jayasuriya.

Ramiz Raja, a former Pakistan captain and Test opener, told a TV channel that he was left speechless after hearing about the incident.

He said the people of Pakistan will have to come out and condemn terrorism to ensure that such things do not happen again.

“It’s an unbelievable incident,” said Raja, who was covering the two-match Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka as a commentator. “Nobody expected cricketers to be attacked in Pakistan but this has happened and is making our hearts bleed.”

Inzamam-ul-Haq, another former Pakistan captain, feared that the Lahore incident can affect Pakistan’s position as one of the co-hosts of the 2011 World Cup.

“This is the first time that a cricket team has been seriously targeted… Pakistan’s image will be hit and only time will tell how much damage has been done to Pakistan cricket. The World Cup too might be affected… no country would want to come now to Pakistan… I am worried where Pakistan will get a chance to play, not only in Pakistan but outside as well. This is all so sad,” said Inzamam.

Saleem Malik and Wasim Akram feared for the future of cricket in Pakistan.

Former Pakistan captain Zaheer Abbas said that the attacks will surely now stop all teams from touring the country.

“It is a bad and shocking news for us. Teams have already stopped coming to Pakistan and I don’t know what will happen in future,” he said.

Taking serious note of the attack, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said the incident would have serious repercussions on Pakistan’s chances of co-hosting the 2011 World Cup.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the priority for the world body now was the safety of the Sri Lankan cricketers.

“We note with dismay and regret the events of this morning in Lahore and we condemn this attack without reservation. There will be serious repercussions out of it and we will take some serious decisions on it,” said Lorgat.

Lorgat had last month raised serious doubts about Pakistan’s ability to be a co-host for the 2011 World Cup with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

He said that the ICC is taking all steps to get their match officials out of Pakistan as soon as possible.

“I have confirmed with both Member Boards that the remainder of the tour has been cancelled and we are working hard to get our match officials out of the area as safely and as quickly as possible. I know, also, that the Pakistan Cricket Board is working with Sri Lanka Cricket to make sure the players are flown home at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

The Indian cricket board also expressed its shock over the dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) expresses its sorrow and anguish over the dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured cricketers, and sympathise with their families and compatriots. The BCCI stands alongside Sri Lanka Cricket in this hour of crisis,” said BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan.

The New Zealand cricket team left a 2002 tour of Pakistan midway after an explosion outside the team hotel in Karachi.

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