The final match of Bangladesh cricket team's tour of New Zealand was on Friday, 15 March, called off after the players had a narrow escape from a shooting terror attack on a mosque in Christchurch, described as an "unprecedented act of violence" by the country's Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.
The terror attack on the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park killed around 49 people.
The Bangladesh team, which was about to enter the mosque to offer prayers, escaped unscathed but the prevailing situation led to the authorities calling off the third and final Test match, which is scheduled to be played at the Hagley Oval starting 16 March.
Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval. pic.twitter.com/VtkqSrljjV— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) March 15, 2019
"All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, New Zealand are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is in constant contact with the players and team management," the BCB said in a statement on its Twitter page.
All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, New Zealand are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is in constant contact with the players and team management.#christchurchMosqueAttack— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019
Senior opener Tamim Iqbal was one of the first people to tweet. He tweeted: “Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) March 15, 2019
New Zealand Cricket had also tweeted to confirm the safety of the players and the support staff.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch. A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test. Again both teams and support staff groups are safe.— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) March 15, 2019
The players were initially barred from leaving the bus but, after several minutes, disembarked and made their way through to the Hagley Park ground. After which they went back to their hotel.
"“We are very thankful that we weren’t caught in the crossfire, but what we saw was straight out of a movie scene. We could see bloodstained people staggering out of the mosque.”" - Khaled Mashud, Bangladesh team manager
"Maybe for about eight-ten minutes, we were all inside the bus and were sitting with our heads bowed, just in case someone fires at us," he added.
The team's Indian Performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekeran, a Mumbai-based computer-engineer-turned-cricket-analyst, was there in the bus at the time of the incident. The side's spin consultant Sunil Joshi, also an Indian, was however at the team hotel.
"“We couldn’t react initially. In such a horror situation, your brain automatically freezes as you are terrified. That’s exactly what happened to all of us.”" - Shrinivas Chandrasekeran, Bangladesh performance analyst
On being contacted, Joshi said, "I am safe, I will be back in India on Wednesday next week. I cannot talk on the incident right now."
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident marked "one of New Zealand's darkest days" "It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," Ardern said.
Ardern issued a strong statement condemning the attack.
"“This is significant and I can tell you now this is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days. I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are.”" - Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister
The bus carried 17 members of the team with Liton Das, Nayeem Hasam and spin bowling consultant Joshi staying back at the hotel.
Mashud said the players are bound to be affected after escaping death by a whisker.
"“It is natural to be affected. When you see something like a terror attack in front of you, and you see blood spilled in front of you, this will affect any human being. It wouldn’t have occurred to us then that we would be safe later. Some of the boys inside the bus were crying as well, because they were all worried about how to get out of there.” " - Khaled Mashud, Bangladesh team manager
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said it "fully supports" the cancellation of the third Test.
"“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by this horrendous incident in Christchurch. Both teams, staff and match officials are safe and the ICC fully supports the decision to cancel the Test match.” " - David Richardson, ICC Chief Executive
The Pakistan Cricket Board expressed its grief and shock over the incident with the Peshawar and Islamabad franchise teams wearing black armbands during their match in the Pakistan Super League on Friday.
" “On behalf of the Pakistan cricket fraternity, I would like to condemn in the strongest possible way the cowardly, uncivilised and inhuman terrorist attacks on the innocent worshippers in Christchurch mosques.” " - Ehsan Mani, PCB Chairman
"Our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy who will feel and understand their pain and loss better than us. In these difficult times, we also stand firmly with our colleagues in New Zealand Cricket and offer our deepest condolences," Mani added.
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