Shootout in Lahore March 4, 2009

Our terror background helped - Jayawardene

Cricinfo staff


Mahela Jayawardene with his wife at the Colombo airport © AFP
 

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has attributed his players' immediate reaction in taking cover when terrorists attacked their team bus in Lahore to the situation in his country. "We have been brought up in a background of terrorist activities," Jayawardene said after the squad returned home to relieved relatives and tearful hugs late Tuesday night. "We are used to hearing, seeing these things - firing, bombings. So we ducked under our seats when the firing began. It was like natural instinct."

The Sri Lanka cricketers were on their way to the Gaddafi stadium when their bus was attacked by 12 armed terrorists near Liberty market. A grenade was also thrown at the bus but it missed.

Jayawardene said the players just wanted to spend time with their families now. "I am a Buddhist and I think we have done some merit in our previous birth to escape with minor injuries." He also said the attack on the team could have happened anywhere and could not be pinned down to Pakistan. "In the future, I think all of us will step back and look at the bigger picture besides just touring abroad, taking into account our families."

Muttiah Muralitharan said he saw images of his life flashing by when the bus came under attack. "All the while bullets were being sprayed at our bus, people around me were shouting. I am glad to be back."

While most of the players had minor injuries, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paravitana had to be taken to hospital for their wounds in Lahore. Geethanjana Mendis, a sports medicine specialist who examined the players, said they would need further treatment and surgery.

Suranga Lakmal, one of the players injured, was received at the airport by his anxious parents. "He is our only son. We have not eaten anything since we heard the news," his father Albert said. The tour to Pakistan was Lakmal's first call-up to the Sri Lankan national side.