PAK vs NZ: Thilan Samaraweera, victim of 2009 Lahore bus attack, returns to Pakistan after 12 years

PAK vs NZ: Thilan Samaraweera, victim of 2009 Lahore bus attack, returns to Pakistan after 12 years

Samaraweera was one of the five cricketers who were injured during the infamous Lahore bus attack.

Thilan Samaraweera
Thilan Samaraweera. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Former Sri Lanka player Thilan Samaraweera, who was one of the injured players during the infamous Lahore bus attack in March 2009, has arrived in Pakistan after 12 long years of the unfortunate incident. Samaraweera, who played 81 Tests and 53 ODIs for Sri Lanka between 1998 to 2013, is now a coaching staff member of New Zealand, who incidentally are touring Pakistan after 18 years.

The New Zealand team that arrived on September 11 after recently losing a five-T20I away series against Bangladesh 2-3, is to play three ODIs and five T20 in Pakistan, starting with the first ODI on September 17.

Samaraweera was one of the five cricketers including then-captain Mahela Jayawardene, his deputy Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, and Tharanga Paravitarana, to be injured during the 2009 Lahore shoot out, which led to the cancellation of the series midway through as the Sri Lanka players were airlifted to a nearby base, before being flown out of Pakistan.

While international cricket came to a standstill of sorts in Pakistan after the incident, the improving situations have meant that more and more countries are now agreeing to travel to the Asian nation, putting the stories of the past behind, with England set to tour Pakistan too, in October this year for two T20Is. In the last couple of years, Pakistan has successfully hosted Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and South Africa, while they are all in readiness to play New Zealand.

Pakistan-New Zealand ODIs not a part of ODI Super League

The ODI series, which commences September 17, however, will be played as a standalone contest and not be a part of ICC’s ODI Super League due to the non-availability of the Decision Review System (DRS).

Although, in a rather promising update, the limited-overs series is set to welcome crowds back in the stadium, as Pakistan Cricket Board have obtained National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) approval to have crowds to the extent of 25% in both Rawalpindi and Lahore, where the five T20Is will be played.

Resultantly, approximately 4500 spectators are expected to be in attendance during the ODIs on September 17, 19 and 21, while around 5500 will be able to attend the scheduled T20Is on September 25, 26, 29, and October 1 and 3 at Gaddafi Stadium.

Meanwhile, the series being on clash with the UAE leg of the IPL means a host of players – Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Seifert, James Neesham, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Mitchell Santner, and Lockie Ferguson – are missing from the New Zealand ranks.