A press conference, a football game: How Bangladesh cricketers escaped Christchurch shooting

first_img India Today Web Desk DhakaMarch 17, 2019UPDATED: March 17, 2019 16:18 IST Bangladesh cricketers touched down in Dhaka on Saturday (Reuters Photo)HIGHLIGHTSA few members of the Bangladesh cricket team narrowly escaped the Christchurch mosque shootings on FridayThe third Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand was cancelled after the attack on the Christchurch mosquesTamim Iqbal recollected how he and his teammates survived the near-death experience in ChristchurchBangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal recollected how he and his teammates escaped the Christchurch mosques shooting that left 49 people in New Zealand dead on March 15.The Bangladesh cricket team had reached Christchurch for the third Test which was eventually cancelled after the horror unfolded in the city. On the eve of the Test, some of the Bangladesh players and members of the support staff had left the Hagley Oval to offer prayers at the Al Noor Mosque where the shooting happened.The team bus carrying the players was driven into the street but the Bangladesh players couldn’t alight the bus as they heard gunshots. The players were forced to shelter aboard the bus for close to seven minutes as the area around the Al Noor Mosque was gripped with horror.A terrifying wait followed but, fortunately, the players were able to leave the scene of the attack and rush back to the Hagley Oval via the Hagley Park.Tamim Iqbal said the players would have lost their lives in the dastardly attack had they started from the Hagley Oval a couple of minutes earlier. The Bangladesh opener revealed that Mahmudullah Riyad had taken a bit of time to finish the customary pre-match press conference.These little things saved us: TamimIqbal also said he and his teammates were involved in a game of football in the dressing room and it delayed the players’ departure by a few minutes as well.”Normally Mushfiq [Rahim] and Riyad bhai [Mahmudullah] want to be present during the Khutbah [sermon], which is why we want to reach the Jumm’a prayers early. The bus was scheduled to leave at 1.30 pm, but Riyad bhai had gone to the press conference. A bit of time was spent there, and after finishing the press conference, he came to the dressing room,” Tamim wrote for ESPNCricinfo.advertisementHe added: “In the dressing room, we got engaged in a game of football. Taijul [Islam] didn’t want to lose, but the others wanted him to lose in that game. Taijul and Mushfiq were having a one-on-one game, which took up a few more minutes. These little things saved us in the end.”When we were getting near the mosque, everyone on my right started to see something outside the window. I saw that a body was lying on the floor. Naturally we thought either he was drunk or had fainted. So then the bus kept going, and stopped near the mosque. But everyone’s attention remained with that man lying on the ground.”While that was happening, my attention went to another man, bloodied, and about to fall down. Panic set in, at that point.’There’s some shooting going on, don’t go, don’t go'”Our bus stopped in front of a car near the mosque. We saw that the bus driver was talking to a lady who was literally shaking and crying. She was saying, “there’s some shooting going on, don’t go, don’t go.””When we saw more dead bodies, we couldn’t figure out what to do. Those wearing the namaz cap, they took it off in fear. I mean we figured out that something was going on. Those wearing punjabi [shalwar kameez] they started to wear a jacket over it. What else to do?”We then just lay down on the floor of the bus. It had been about seven or eight minutes at that stage. We still didn’t exactly know what it was but we knew that there was some kind of violence happening.”We were panicking big time. Look at me, I can’t even talk properly. We told the bus driver to get us out of there. Do something. But he wasn’t moving. Everyone started to shout at him. I was shouting at him. For those six or seven minutes, there was no police.Players started to weep after watching the shooter’s video: TamimJournalist Mohammad Isam then helped the Bangladesh players find a way back to the Hagley Oval through the park. Tamim revealed that the players were not sure if they wanted to run back to the Hagley Oval as they had feared grabbing more eyeballs in the volatile situation.Tamim also added that the players were left devastated when they saw the footage of the shooting after returning to their hotel rooms.”We returned to the team hotel and went straight to Riyad bhai’s room. We started to watch the shooter’s video. The players started to weep, like they were doing in the dressing room,” Tamim said.He added: “On our way to the airport, we were telling each other that if things had gone wrong by even a little bit, it would have been our dead bodies, not us, going home. It was just a matter of 30 seconds.”advertisementFollowing the cancellation of the third Test, the Bangladesh players had left New Zealand and reached Dhaka on Saturday.Also Read | Please save us: Tamim Iqbal in phone call to journalist as Christchurch horror unfoldedAlso Read | New Zealand vs Bangladesh Test called off: Major cricket tours affected by terror attacksAlso Read | ICC backs cancellation of New Zealand-Bangladesh Test in wake of Christchurch mosque shootingsFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byAkshay Ramesh Tags :Follow Bangladesh cricket teamFollow Christchurch mosque shootingFollow Hagley OvalFollow Al Noor mosqueFollow New Zealand vs BangladeshFollow Tamim Iqbal A press conference, a football game: How Bangladesh cricketers escaped Christchurch shootingBangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal said he and his teammates are unable to take their minds off the dastardly attack on Christchurch mosques that left 49 dead in New Zealand on Friday.advertisementlast_img read more