Kumar Sangakkara recalls Lahore terror attack of 2009 on Sri Lankan team

In a candid conversion with Anna Coren for CNN’s Talk Asia, former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara revisited the dark day, when the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists in Lahore, Pakistan in March 2009.

Speaking of what went through his mind when the assailants were spraying bullets, Sangakkara said, “I don’t think I was thinking anything other than the fact that just keep your head down, and hopefully you won’t get hit and even if you do, like I said, hopefully not on the head.”

Sangakkara was hit on the shoulder but his team-mate Thilan Samaraweera suffered a serious knee injury after getting hit by a bullet. The incident also killed six Pakistani policemen protecting the team and two civilians. Sangakkara acknowledged the role of policemen and army for being real heroes as he added, “He (referring to an army person) is a real hero, putting his life on the line for the service of the country.”

Growing up in civil war torn Sri Lanka, Sangakkara, undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s greatest batsman ever, has seen other dark days in his life and didn’t hesitate speaking about them. In the early 1980s, his parents saved the lives of their Tamil friends, which Sangakkara feels was an ‘amazing thing to do’ and in doing so, his parents inculcated right values to him and the siblings.

“They (Tamil families) were friends and there were no label attached to them,” said Sangakkara, who also emphasized how scary life could be in Sri Lanka and how cricket played a pivotal role in healing the war wounds.

In an interesting conversation, Sangakkara revealed that the shocking first round exit of Sri Lanka in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, as a positive for him. The humiliating exit of the then defending champions prompted the selectors to look for young blood and that’s how Sangakkara got noticed and made it to the national team. “We got knocked out in the first round. The entire Sri Lanka was disappointed but that was the piece of luck I needed for my career,” the southpaw revealed.

About the lows of his careers, he spoke about the disappointing four losses on major tournament finals (ICC World Cup in 2007, ICC World Twenty20 in 2009, ICC World Cup 2011 and ICC World Twenty20 2012). Though non committal, he discussed his retirement plans post the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, as he feels that if he still plays after that, it wouldn’t add much to the Sri Lankan cricket.

“Maybe with the consent of the selectors it might be the World Cup and nothing beyond,” Sangakkara hinted as he then went on to speak about his team’s chances at the World Cup.