Christchurch: The Bangladesh cricket team’s tour of New Zealand was called off Friday after the players had a narrow escape from a shooting attack on the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Hagley Park here.
The Bangladesh team, who were 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 starting Saturday.
“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.
“The (Bangladeshi) cricketers are set to leave New Zealand in the first available flight,” Bangladeshi news agency BSS quoted team manager Khaled Masud Pilot as saying. “They are all safe but they remain distraught. They can’t forget what happened just in front of their eyes,” he added.
Bangladesh’s Indian performance analyst Shrinivas Chandrasekeran, a Chennai-based computer-engineer-turned-cricket-analyst, also spoke about the incident on social media. Chandrasekeran has been with the team for the past one year
“Just escaped active shooters. Heartbeats pumping badly and panic everywhere,” he was quoted as saying by media reports.
Senior opener Tamim Iqbal said it was a frightening experience for the team. “…please keep us in your prayers,” he tweeted.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden termed the shooting as ‘one of New Zealand’s darkest days’ and 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,” she said.
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 that they went back to their hotel.
According to a cricket-specific website most of the coaching staff was in the team hotel at the time of the incident while head coach Steve Rhodes was at the ground.
“Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan were also back in the hotel and have been contacted, and told to stay back at the hotel,” the media report stated.