Christchurch, March 15 (IANS): The Bangladesh cricket team narrowly avoided being caught up in a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch in New Zealand on Friday, forcing the cancellation of a test match against hosts New Zealand.
At least one gunman killed 49 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in the country’s worst ever mass shooting.
The Bangladesh team was on a bus that was approaching the Al Noor mosque on the eve of the third test at nearby Hagley Oval when the shooting began, bdnews24.com reports.
Mario Villavarayen, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, said it was a close call.
“Their bus was just pulling up to the mosque when the shooting began,” he said. “They are shaken.”
The team were pictured on social media walking back through Hagley Park to the cricket ground.
A Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) spokesman said: “All our players are now safe… We have told them not to step out.”
BCB President Nazmul Hassan later told reporters in Dhaka that the team would now demand better security on all of their overseas tours.
“When any foreign team comes to our country, we always ensure proper security,” he said.
New Zealand Cricket said they had chosen to cancel the test, which was the final match of the tour, after discussions with the BCB.
“I spoke to my counterpart in Bangladesh and we agree it’s inappropriate to play cricket at this time,” chief executive David White told TVNZ.
“Arrangements are being made for the return of the Bangladesh team home as soon as possible,” NZC said in a statement.
New Zealand abandoned their 1987 tour of Sri Lanka following a bombing near their hotel in Colombo in which more than 100 people were killed.
They also abandoned a tour of Pakistan in May 2002 following a suicide bombing outside their hotel in Karachi.