"I've Kept the Bullet from the Lahore Attack" : Thilan Samaraweera

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Thilan Samaraweera is a cricketer that savours every minute of his life, every run he scores and every moment that he shares with his loved ones and fans.

34 year old Samaraweera will forever be remembered for not letting a bullet injury end his international career after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009.

Samaraweera made his test debut against India in 2001 and scored 102 not out on debut. A veteran of 63 tests, his average of 54.25 is boosted by two double hundreds against Pakistan and 12 centuries in total.

Speaking exclusively to PakPassion.net; Samaraweera looked ahead to the upcoming tough series in England, as well as recalling the life threatening moments of the terrorist attack in Lahore.

Samaraweera's preparations for the first test in Cardiff couldn't have begun much better with scores of 41 and 74 respectively against the England Lions, innings that he feels have helped him settle into the tour of England.

"Things weren't easy at Derby. The ball was doing quite a bit. There was seam movement and swing. Conditions were tough, overcast, a bit of rain, the bounce was a bit up and down, but I'm happy with how things went."

With an eye on the challenging three test series against England which commences this Thursday, Samaraweera is hopeful that he and his team mates can go one better this time around and defeat the home side.

"Of course the plan is to win the series. Last time we drew the series in England and this time we want to go one better. This time around we have a new bowling attack due to guys like Malinga, Murali and Vaas not being part of the squad, but this is a good opportunity for the young players to shine and make a name for themselves and show what they are capable of. The performance of our experienced batting line-up is key and myself and the guys are really looking forward to the challenge."

The experienced trio of Malinga, Vaas and Murali will be sorely missed by the Sri Lankans, but Samaraweera wasn't surprised at Malinga's decision to retire from test cricket.

"He's had terrible problems with his knee and he's made the decision to prolong his career in the hope that he can carry on playing the shorter versions of cricket in the coming years. So I'm not surprised with Lasith's decision."

Samaraweera is keeping an open mind with regards to his own retirement and hopes that he can continue as long as he's enjoying his cricket and performing well.

"This year we have eleven test matches which is a lot of cricket coming up. Next year we also have eleven test matches scheduled so I am focussing more on test cricket. I feel I can go on for at least the next two years and after that I hope for the best."

Samaraweera also recalled one of the darkest days in cricketing history; March 3rd 2009 when Samaraweera and his team mates were attacked by terrorists as their team bus was due to enter the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore.

"It was the worst day of my life. Those three minutes in the bus will stay with me forever. But it's all in the past now and thankfully I am here to tell the tale."

Samaraweera during the horrifying events in Lahore had a bullet pierce the inside of his thigh, centimetres from the knee but was back playing for Sri Lanka four months after the attack.

"It was a challenge to play after the attack and the injury, but I wanted desperately to start playing again. I was back playing again for Sri Lanka after four months. When I was lying in the hospital bed recovering from the injury I never thought I would be able to make such a swift recovery."

In the aftermath of the Lahore attack, the Sri Lankan players won much praise from the cricketing world in the dignified way they conducted themselves. Rather than pointing fingers, the Sri Lankan players and officials maintained a professional and respectful viewpoint.

"We have had 30 years of internal problems in Sri Lanka, we are used to that. In schools and other educational establishments we are taught how to react in such situations and that helped us all that day in Lahore."

Whilst some of the Sri Lankan cricketers and staff suffered shrapnel wounds in Lahore, Samaraweera was the only one on the Sri Lankan team bus that received a bullet. However Samaraweera feels that the bullet was "lucky", as had it entered his left leg a few centimetres away from knee, the injury would have been far more serious and potentially career threatening.

"I have kept the bullet, it's at home. I feel that it's a lucky bullet as if it had hit the bone I would never have played cricket again and if it had hit a nerve then the doctors said that I would have been paralysed. So for me, the fact that it neither hit the bone or a nerve means that the bullet was lucky.”
 

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Such a brave guy good luck to him against England
 
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to come away from a life-changing event like that takes some serious mental strength and character.

never been a fan, but I take my hat off to Thilan, and indeed the entire Lankan team.

As a Pakistani I could never apologize enough for what happened to their team that fateful day in Lahore.
 
@Samarawera i'm really sorry for that but u can feel the pain , we receives these bullets daily here in Pakistan :(
 
What an amazing man. It takes a lot of physical and mental courage to get yourself back on track after something so horrific happens to you. It shows how much he loves the game. Props to Samarawera for not only working hard to get back to cricket, but also for being understanding+forgiving about the unfortunate incident that could have potentially ruined his career.
 
Wish the guy good luck on the England tour. Underrated player in my opinion, I've a feeling he'll do well in England
 
The way the Lankan players reacted to such an awful event showed what brave, respectful individuals they are. Best of luck to Samaraweera and Sri Lanka. As a Pak I will never forget their attitude.
 
It's really tragic, thinking back to that dark day. It's a massive courage to continue touring and playing the game after such a horrific incident.

SL has a soft spot in our hearts, they're a fantastic nation and it's painful to think what they must have gone through on that journey.
 
Massively underrated batsman, on account of people assuming he must only score in flat conditions. He used to be a terrible player but really patched up his game which I have respect for. The centuries he scored back in the summer of 09 were some of the better ones I've seen in recent years

And excellent to see the SLankans' calmness after that incident, they will have a soft spot in my heart and many others Pakistanis' hearts as well
 
The dignified way that the Sri Lankan Players have beahved is in stark contrast to the disgraceful manner of the PCB (esp Ijaz Butt) in the aftermath of the attack. They blamed everyone but themselves, including some of the victims. Shameful.

Pakistan deserves better than the PCB.
 
I do feel that Thilan is a much underated player. Personally, I've always rated him highly, because to me, he is almost identical to Younus Khan in terms of class, temprament and style of batting.

In terms of the attack on the Sri Lankan team, I still cannot understand how every single one of the Lankan players found it in them to react in the manner they did. It was beyond simply acting gracefully and with dignity. Each of the Lankan players in my opinion would have still acted gracefully and with dignity if they absolutely slated the PCB and the Pakistani authorities, because that is exactly what they deserved. But to be so absolutely genuinely nice so as to not lay a finger of blame on anyone, well that takes some strength of character.

If I went to a nation as an official guest of the state, and where I was a clear target for terrorists, and where the state in question was a hot bed of terrorism, then I would expect nothing less than the absolute maximum security possibly available anywhere on the planet. If that state then failed in its duty to provide almost any security at all, and if I as a consequences was injured by bullets in an attack, then I for one do not think I would have any sort of patience whatsoever for that state. I think I would be so angry that I wouldnlt have a single good word to say about that state or its leaders. The fact that the Lankans were so dignified is beyond belief.

That day we could have easily lost guys like Murali, Sangakara and Jawardene. It is a miracle of Allah that try as they might, the terrorists were unable to obtain their main goal, to kill the cricketers. Had that happened, for me, it would have been the day cricket was killed in Pakistan for good.
 
I do feel that Thilan is a much underated player. Personally, I've always rated him highly, because to me, he is almost identical to Younus Khan in terms of class, temprament and style of batting.



Yes he is underrated by many who think he is a flat track bully but come on man, he is nowhere near the class of someone like Younis Khan. Younis has performed all round the world whereas Samaraweera's success is confined to 2 or 3 countries.

However, putting his playing record to one side he seems like an incredible character. All credit to him.
 
As AZ said, to comeback from such a disaster and be successful at the international level requires a lot of mental fortitude. So kudos for Samara for handling it all so perfectly.

His cricketing career too has seen an upswing since his comeback which makes it even more commendable.
 
Yes he is underrated by many who think he is a flat track bully but come on man, he is nowhere near the class of someone like Younis Khan. Younis has performed all round the world whereas Samaraweera's success is confined to 2 or 3 countries.

However, putting his playing record to one side he seems like an incredible character. All credit to him.

Actually, I take that back, he isn't the same class as Younus! I think I meant more the style of batting rather than actual class. You're right in that Thilan's performances in England, Australia and against South Africa in Sri Lanka have been poor. That said, he hasn't had a whole lot of games against these nations, but in the opportunities he has had, he hasn't done anything special. It's only really against Pakistan, India and New Zealand where he has performed, and his average is inflated by his performances against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Obviously conditions in New Zealand are traditionally challanging, but in recent years, the pitches have been flat and the NZ bowling attack has been poor.

All of that said, I still think Thilan is a solid player, as is anybody with an average above 50.
 
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I apologized to a Sri Lankan shop keeper the next day that incident happened on behalf of all Pakistanis. Very sad day for us all and its really painful to read his interview / sentiments because the main reason of his pain came at our land.
 
By the way a huge thank you to Thilan for his time in doing this interview.

When I asked him about the Lahore incident, he sighed, a long deep sigh. The pain was still there and his voice quivered when he answered the first question regarding the terrorist attack. Looking at him as he answered the questions about the attack, one could sense the relief that he had escaped with his life in tact.
 
to come away from a life-changing event like that takes some serious mental strength and character.

never been a fan, but I take my hat off to Thilan, and indeed the entire Lankan team.

As a Pakistani I could never apologize enough for what happened to their team that fateful day in Lahore.

@bold couldnt have said it any better.....
 
The way the Lankan players reacted to such an awful event showed what brave, respectful individuals they are. Best of luck to Samaraweera and Sri Lanka. As a Pak I will never forget their attitude.

Agreed , Sri Lankans showed great character and bravery
 
Ive always been a fan of the Sri Lankans......Good luck to Samraweera and co
 
to come away from a life-changing event like that takes some serious mental strength and character.

never been a fan, but I take my hat off to Thilan, and indeed the entire Lankan team.

As a Pakistani I could never apologize enough for what happened to their team that fateful day in Lahore.

This. Couldnt agree more.

And yep, a massively underated batsmen, one of the top players in the world at the moment.
 
Once again my sincere appreciation to Thilan and the Sri Lankan team management with this interview.
 
A timely bump on the day that he scored a very good century for Sri Lanka.

Really nice guy is Thilan.
 
Congratulations it was a brilliant knock. Why the Lankans left him out of the tour party vs Pakistan is hard to understand.
 
Worth a read.

4 years to the day of the attack.
 
Best wishes to Thilan for the future.

A really nice guy, very humble and a real gentleman.
 
As a Pakistani I could never apologize enough for what happened to their team that fateful day in Lahore.

Pity there are some in the PCB who did not share this attitude. :ibutt
 
10th Anniversary of the attack today....
 
10th Anniversary of the attack today....

I honestly feel it is time to put this behind us. Irrespective of the conflict with India, support to Kashmir cause and small minority support to extremists, situation in Pakistan has improved a lot. Irrespective of how many issues we Indians and Pakistanis face due to political situation, I feel it is time to integrate pakistan as a cricketing destination with the rest of the world. Pushing this further more may result in game losing its base in Pakistan, which I am sure none of the posters who show up on this forum(cricket sect) wants to see. Best of luck to Pakistanis and hope the wounds have healed for brave Sri Lankans.
 
I honestly feel it is time to put this behind us. Irrespective of the conflict with India, support to Kashmir cause and small minority support to extremists, situation in Pakistan has improved a lot. Irrespective of how many issues we Indians and Pakistanis face due to political situation, I feel it is time to integrate pakistan as a cricketing destination with the rest of the world. Pushing this further more may result in game losing its base in Pakistan, which I am sure none of the posters who show up on this forum(cricket sect) wants to see. Best of luck to Pakistanis and hope the wounds have healed for brave Sri Lankans.

If you have asked me kn 2009 I would have not thought that we will come out of it, But thanks God pakistan is much much better now .
 
If you have asked me kn 2009 I would have not thought that we will come out of it, But thanks God pakistan is much much better now .
Agreed. Those of you who actually live in Pakistan are obviously aware of it. Now it is up to all of us outside Pakistan to support cricket coming back to Pakistan. I completely understand that the final decision anyway rests with the respective governments. the case with India is different but other countries should take some baby steps
 
Agreed. Those of you who actually live in Pakistan are obviously aware of it. Now it is up to all of us outside Pakistan to support cricket coming back to Pakistan. I completely understand that the final decision anyway rests with the respective governments. the case with India is different but other countries should take some baby steps

Thank you for your thoughts. Pakpassion is a good placed to find Indians who like Pakistan. Seems like a rare commodity on the Indian airwaves! I have stopped watching Indian news completely now as it is too poisonous about Pakistan unfortunately. But to your point - I also agree, it is high time other countries started taking steps to return intl cricket to Pakistan. The situation is much better there now and Pakistanis deserve to see their cricketers play, cricketers deserve to be able to play in front of their countrymen.
 
The Black Caps have arrived in Pakistan with batting coach Thilan Samaraweera returning to a country etched in his memory after he was shot there in a 2009 terrorist attack.

Samaraweera – on board for the Black Caps’ Bangladesh and Pakistan series –was on board the Sri Lankan team’s bus when it was attacked by terrorists on the way to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in March 2009.

Six police guards and two civilians were killed, and Samaraweera – the worst injured of the Sri Lankan players – spent two weeks recovering in hospital.

He was out of cricket for four months as a result of the attack, which led to the rest of the cricketing world refusing to play tests in Pakistan for over 10 years, until Sri Lanka returned in December 2019.

He said in that interview that “the attack must have been two or three minutes, but it felt like 24 hours’’.

“It was only when the bus arrive at the ground that I realised I'd been shot. I couldn't move my leg. I thought I wouldn't play again.

Samararweera, now 44, said in the Cricket Monthly interview it took his wife and daughter 18 months to get over the trauma of the Lahore attack, but he continued to play for Sri Lanka until 2013.

This is Samararweera’s second tour of duty with the Black Caps after serving as their batting coach for their 2019 tour of Sri Lanka.

The Black Caps – fresh from a 3-2 T20 series defeat in Bangaladesh – are touring Pakistan for the first time since 2003. They play the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi on Friday and then the five T20s in Lahore between September 25 and October 3.

New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills told Stuff he was satisfied the Black Caps would have “the highest level of security that could be afforded to an international team” and he was “very comfortable with the resources the Pakistan Cricket Board and government are putting towards the tour to ensure our people are safe.’’

Those Black Caps who arrived from Bangladesh will do two days’ hotel quarantine, but those arriving from New Zealand will face a five-day isolation period.

The Black Caps’ regular batting coach Luke Ronchi, who has played and coached in the Pakistan Super League, has called on the Kiwi tourists to embrace the experience of playing in a passionate cricketing country.

Ronchi said in a video on the Black Caps’ social media channels that the Pakistanis would be up for the series because “any international cricketer wants to play cricket in their home country’’.

“For a long time, they have played in the UAE, so for them starting to have international teams coming and playing them in the conditions they’ve all grown up in and playing in front of their friends and family, I think that’s a massive thing for them.’’

Ronchi said it was also “cool to go somewhere new’' for the Black Caps.

“I’ve been a few times in the last few years, but the majority of guys from New Zealand haven’t been, so it’s a new experience

He said they should “embrace Pakistan’’ and the opportunity “to play against a good international team in their own country, which is another challenge’’.

Meanwhile, the three-match ODI series in Pakistan will reportedly not count towards the ICC World Cup Super League due to the non-availability of the Decision Review System (DRS).
 
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