News Item, Times Online, 11 March 2019, with title “Cricket: Paul Farbrace credit Dilshan for his bravery a decade after Lahore attack”
Ten years after Sri Lankan cricketers came under a terrorist attack in Lahore, Paul Farbrace–the team’s assistant coach at that time has credited former Sri Lanka opener TM Dilshan for saving their lives. Six police officers and a driver were killed and seven members of the Sri Lanka contingent wounded in Lahore on March 3, 2009 when more than a dozen heavily armed gunmen ambushed the team convoy en route to a match against Pakistan.
“The driver was given huge credit, and his skills in getting us out of the situation were incredible, but to this day I think Dilshan’s bravery saved our lives,” Farbrace was quoted as saying by BBC, “Sticking his head up and talking the driver through it, telling him where to turn, that probably saved us.”
Farbrace was among those injured in the attack and has been interviewed by BBC along with Trevor Bayliss–Sri Lanka team’s head coach at that time to mark ten years since the horrific incident in Lahore. Cricketers, Thilan Samaraweera, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajanatha Mendis, Tharanga Paranavithana and Suranga Lakmal injured.
“Bullets were hitting the bus but everybody was incredibly calm. It was an eerie calm. There were bullets pinging the bus, hitting the glass, but the only voice I could hear was Dilshan’s. It was a very distinctive voice. I can still hear it now, I probably will for the rest of my life.
As bullets pierced the sides and windscreen of the bus, the drive drove the vehicle away from the coordinated attacks at an exposed intersection . With Dilshan giving specific instructions from behind the bus, riddled with 25 bullet holes was careered into the nearby stadium where medics had rushed to treat the injured players and staff.
“He would always sit right behind the driver. I could hear him shouting to the bus driver to reverse. The driver had got himself under the steering wheel and was steering with his arms above his head. He’d started to reverse back like this while Dilshan was the one popping his head up and giving him directions to get away from the attack,” Farbrace has reflected on the incident which almost cost their lives.
A few days after the great escape, Sri Lankan cricketers honoured the Pakistani bus driver Mohammad Khalil who risked his life to get the team to safety amid the attacks by terrorists.