Terror in Pakistan March 3, 2009

'Cricketers will be more alert' - Dhoni


Mahendra Singh Dhoni: "From now on cricketers will be on alert, but there is not much a cricketer could have done in a situation like this when the whole convoy is attacked" © AFP
 

It was not just another cricket match for India and New Zealand. After Yuvraj Singh's run-out in the 23rd over of the first innings, news poured in that the Sri Lankan team bus had been targeted by terrorists in Lahore. Both captains admitted that it had affected the teams, more so India, given that they were supposed to tour Pakistan in January.

"I was quite shocked, quite blank," Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. "It's sad that sportspersons are attacked. Even a civilian getting attacked is just as sad. Hope they are all fine."

"It was probably of the extreme nature," Daniel Vettori said. "It died down as the day went on, in terms of casualties and injuries to some of the Sri Lankan guys. We are all grateful to hear that they are okay. But it did affect the team quite a lot. Our team is devastated by the news so were the Indian guys."

Both the teams have friends in the Sri Lankan team. Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, two of the injured players, are Yuvraj's team-mates at Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. Dhoni and Jacob Oram play with Muttiah Muralitharan for Chennai Super Kings. Apart from that, friendships must have developed playing against each other. Amid all the uncertainty, the game went on at McLean Park.

Vettori said he was more bothered about the safety of the people involved as opposed to whether this incident justified the stance of some nations to not tour Pakistan. "Thoughts and opinions may come later down the line," Vettori said. "At the moment it's the safety of the people hurt. We've got some good friends in the Sri Lankan team, the Indians are also close to a lot of them. That's a big concern at the moment."

Dhoni, though, said he was happy to be in New Zealand. "There are a few places you have to be aware of where you are moving and what's going on around you. I am glad I am in New Zealand, and I don't have to worry about these things. From now on cricketers will be on alert, but there is not much a cricketer could have done in a situation like this when the whole convoy is attacked.

"Sides like us are quite happy not to be there, in this kind of a situation. People say sport is not targeted, but you are not immune to it. Once a guy decides to attack the cricketers, we are not tough targets. Cricketers roam about freely on tours, so you have to be aware."

Dhoni also said that he was happy they didn't go ahead with the Pakistan tour as planned. "I am happy we didn't tour Pakistan, and that the government didn't allow us to tour Pakistan. It may or may not have happened to us. But overall I am happy to be here."

Both Dhoni and Vettori thought the chances of cricket being played in Pakistan in the near future were bleak. "You have got to ask ICC for that [future of cricket in Pakistan]," Dhoni said. "One thing is for sure, I don't think cricket will happen there in the next few years maybe."

"I suppose it's tough for Pakistan cricket to come back from this, for no fault of their own," Vettori said. "It's difficult to see teams turning up there in the near future."

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo