Sri Lankan cricketers to leave Pakistan at the earliest: Official

By P. Karunakharan, IANS,

Colombo : The Sri Lankan cricket team, which came under attack in Lahore Tuesday in which six players were injured, has been recalled from Pakistan and steps were taken to fly them out as soon as possible, an official said here.

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“We are making all possible arrangements to get the team down as soon as possible to ensure their safety. The team might return home later today (Tuesday),” CEO of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Duleep Mendis told IANS.

He said that the double-centurion Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranawitharana were among the wounded in the Lahore shootout Tuesday morning when they were entering the match venue at Gaddafi stadium.

“Paranawitharana has suffered a bullet injury in his shoulder while others have injuries minor injuries. They are safe now but we are trying to get them out as soon as possible,” Mendis said.

Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge said that at least six members of the Sri Lankan team, including the assistant coach, were wounded in Lahore city Tuesday when gunmen attacked the team bus going to the Gaddafi stadium for the ongoing Test.

Sri Lanka has cancelled the Test series.

“We are very concerned about the incident. The wounded team members other than Thilan Samaraweera and the team’s assistant coach have been discharged from the hospital after being treated for their injuries,” Lokuge said.

Concerned family members of the players and team officials flocked to the SLC headquarters here and were seen inquiring about the safety of their loved ones.

Sri Lankan Test team vice-captain Kumar Sanagakkara in a brief interview with a local radio station over the phone from Lahore said: “All the players are completely out of danger. The injuries are not serious and we all are keeping safe and fine.”

Father of the outgoing team skipper Mahela Jayawardene said his son had just called his wife from Lahore to say that he too had suffered minor injuries in his leg during the attack that had shocked the nation.

Kushil Gunasekara, the manager of Sri Lanka’s ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan said that Murali had called his family members and confirmed his safety.

“He has confirmed that all the players were safe, but was obviously shocked and dismayed that he could not speak for too long. He has said that the team members had now been moved to a safer location,” he said.

The incident was debated in parliament when opposition legislators questioned the atmosphere of safety of the players before and during the tour.

Five policemen escorting the team bus were killed in the attack that took place as the team was travelling to the stadium to resume the third day’s play of the second and last Test match.