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Stunned umpires caught up in Pakistan cricket attack
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March 03, 2009 14:51 IST

Match referee Chris Broad walked around in a blood stained shirt while umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Davis looked dazed, just hours after an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team touring Pakistan on Tuesday.

While they're used to dealing with incredible pressure in the cauldron of international cricket, nothing prepared the officials for this.

"It was horrifying. There were bullets flying around us and we didn't know what was happening," Pakistani Test umpire Nadeem Ghouri told Reuters.

A dozen heavily armed militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus as it was being taken by police escort to the Gaddafi Stadium [Images] in Lahore [Images] for the start of the second day of their five-day Test.

Travelling behind in their own minibus came the match officials -- the umpires, reserve officials and match referee.

"When the firing started we all went down on the floor of the coach," said Ghouri. "Our driver was killed instantly from a shot from the front."

Ghouri said a local umpire, Ahsan Raza, was critically wounded in the initial stages of the assault.

Englishman Broad, a fiery former opener who had several clashes with umpires during his playing days, lay on top of him to protect him.

"It was very brave," said Ghouri.

While cricket is Pakistan's national sport, the country has been starved of test matches for over a year because of security concerns.

First Australia [Images] and then India cancelled scheduled tours, before Sri Lanka [Images] agreed to step in to fill the breech.

"What is sad is that the Sri Lankans supported us and came to Pakistan and this is the price they have paid for their friendship with us," said former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq [Images].

"What is worse is that all the fears expressed by foreign teams about coming to Pakistan have been proved correct," said another former captain, Javed Miandad [Images].

"Pakistan cricket will take a long time to recover," he told Reuters.

The 60,000-seat Gaddafi Stadium had previously been a happy hunting ground for Sri Lankan cricket.

Previously considered a cricketing minnow, Sri Lanka came of age on the international cricket scene in 1996 when they beat Australia in the final of the ICC [Images] World Cup, a competition held every four years in the one-day format of the game.

Pakistan is supposed to be a co-host of the 2011 version of the event, but organisers have already asked for alternative plans to be drawn up.

The Sri Lankans were airlifted by military helicopter from the pitch on Tuesday, the tour over.

"We are going back today but it is a sad day for cricket," said Sri Lankan team manager Brendan Kurrupu.

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