Abu Dhabi: The dark horror of March 3, 2009 when the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists is still fresh in the mind of Suranga Lakmal, who is one of the only two members, along with Chamara Kapugedera, remaining in the current squad.
It was Lakmal’s maiden tour for Sri Lanka and though he could not show his bowling prowess as he was not picked for first two matches before the series was called off midway through the second Test, it is one tour that he will not forget for life.
Lakmal was one of the six members of the Sri Lanka team who were injured when 12 gunmen fired on their convoy near the Gaddafi Stadium leaving six Pakistani policemen and two civilians dead.
“That was my first tour and I don’t like to talk about that day because mentally I was hurt a lot. We could have been dead,” said Lakmal adding that they were fortunate to be alive.
“We were lucky. It was like going for a war without weapons,” Lakmal said. “You are inside a bus with four guys firing at you and you are like sitting ducks. I thought I was dead.”
Lakmal’s left leg was pierced by a splinter in that attack. Lakmal is still to remove those splinters from his legs, but each time he is at the airport trying to clear the security check, he is reminded of the trauma.
“The doctors said not to operate,” said Lakmal. “It is still in my leg and when I’m in airports, I get into trouble at the metal detectors and they won’t let me go in. Then the manager comes and explains and then the security people let me go.
“Why I have not operated is that the operations take a long time to recover from and I will miss out on quite a bit of cricket.
“The other problem is that in the MRI scan it shows blank and nothing can be seen. I don’t know if I will ever remove it. I will ask the doctors, maybe after retirement, and if they feel that it is not a major harm for my body I will let it be.”
The 30-year-old, who like his skipper Dinesh Chandimal, said that the entire team would sit and decide if they want to play in the final Twenty20 of this series in Lahore.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) gave enough evidence of their organisational capabilities with the successful hosting of the World XI series in Lahore earlier this month.
Before the first Test, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said his home is a “safe country” and they should “come and play”.
The chief executive of Sri Lankan Cricket Ashley de Silva had also earlier said that the board was committed to addressing all the player’s concerns ahead of the last T20.
“We have to decide as a team and whatever decision the team takes, I will abide by it. I have never worked for my whims and fancies. If I get selected and all are willing to go, I will go,” said Lakmal, who is keen to carry his fine form into the second Test starting today.
“I had a decent line and length. Now I’m trying to swing the ball. No point in bowling fast, if you don’t swing the ball, the batsmen will find it easy. You have got to also reverse the ball and that will bring you success.”
Lakmal took the crucial wicket of Azhar Ali for a duck in the tense day five that led to Pakistan’s slump in the first Test in Abu Dhabi.
“We had a small target of 136 and we knew that we needed early wickets,” said Lakmal.
“I wanted to get the team a wicket with the new ball. Glad I dismissed Azhar. What I did was to go wide off the crease and land that delivery and he was surprised by the angle of the ball and nicked it.”