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November 9, 2009
For umpire Ahsan Raza, the third ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand held special significance. Raza's appointment as the reserve official marked his return to duty nine months after being seriously injured in the terror attacks on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore on March 3.
Raza had to undergo emergency surgery to repair a collapsed lung and damaged liver after being shot when the umpires' bus - also carrying on-field officials Simon Taufel and Steve Davis of Australia, television umpire Nadeem Ghouri, and match-referee Chris Broad - came under fire on route to the Gaddafi Stadium for the third day's play.
He remained in intensive care for 26 days and needed two-dozen bottles of blood to survive. He admitted he was still haunted by the events of that morning in Lahore and that his memory is often jolted.
"I am thrilled and exited to no end," Raza said about his return to umpiring. "It was a miracle that I survived, because of the prayers of my wife, my daughters and my people. Doctors are surprised that I am now fit to stand in international cricket.
I often wake up late in the night because of the March 3 nightmares and every time there is a blast in Pakistan I remember those attacks of Lahore because every terror attack looks the same. Every time I hear of the attacks I pray that my country gets rid of such incidents because every walk of life has been disturbed, including my lovely game of cricket."
Pakistan lost the World Cup matches they were due to host in 2011 and are unlikely to receive any international visits in the near future. However, Raza hopes that one day he will be able to stand as an on-field official in his home country.
"It's my wish that when I make my debut as a field umpire it's on a ground in Pakistan, we badly need international cricket to return to our country because everyone loves the game. Today I am alive, and making a return to international cricket is very sensational for me and makes my belief in the Almighty stronger."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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