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Pakistan umpire wants to forget 2009 attack

Shot twice in terror attack, Pakistan cricket umpire Raza wants to forget 2009 assault

Pakistan umpire wants to forget 2009 attack

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) -- Ahsan Raza is looking forward to umpiring Pakistan's match against Zimbabwe, putting behind him the morning when he was shot twice in an attack that slammed the door closed on international cricket in Pakistan.

The 2009 ambush by gunmen on Sri Lanka's team and match officials on their way to Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium killed six people and one of the bullets left Raza with a damaged lung.

"I don't want to look back and recall what happened six years ago, it was dreadful," Raza told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "It was not easy (to recover) with so many stitches all around my stomach and one of the bullets even damaged my right lung."

The attack in this eastern Pakistani city killed six police officers and brought a sudden stop to international cricket in the country, one of the world's leading cricketing nations.

Raza was traveling in a small bus behind the bus carrying Sri Lanka's team. That bus was bravely driven through intense gunfire to the protection of the Gaddafi Stadium.

The smaller bus also came under intense fire. It was carrying international umpires Simon Taufel, Steve Davis and match referee Chris Broad, as well as Raza.

Six years on and 40-year-old Raza wants to forget that dreadful morning of March 3. It took Raza nearly a year to recover completely but he was back on the field as umpire in 2010.

He has officiated in a number of Pakistan's international matches in the United Arab Emirates over the last five years after the Gulf country became Pakistan's 'home' venue.

But Zimbabwe will revive international cricket in Pakistan on Friday when the limited-overs series begin with the first Twenty20 game.

The ICC has declined to send its match officials for the series in Pakistan on the security advice of its own experts, although the games will have formal international status.

Raza has been chosen by the Pakistan Cricket Board to officiate as an onfield umpire in two Twenty20s and in one of the three one-day internationals.

"It's never easy to convince people (to come to Pakistan), but I am happy to live with my family in my own country," Raza said. "I'm really feeling proud to be part of the series and the credit goes to the PCB, which worked hard to convince Zimbabwe."

Pakistan has promised VIP security to the Zimbabwe team with armed personnel travelling in a fleet of vans surrounding the team bus during travel from hotel to the stadium.

At least 4,000 policemen have been assigned to protect the visitors.

Gaddafi Stadium, which is located inside the Nishtar Park Sports Complex, will host all five matches and resembled a fort on Wednesday with hundreds of policemen on duty around the 27,000-capacity stadium.

And Raza hopes Pakistan will succeed in showing the world that his country is once again safe to organize international matches, despite fears that terrorists will seek to take advantage of attacking a foreign sports team again.

"We have waited for this event for six years and I hope many more teams will come after this series," he said.

Updated : 2021-09-26 04:37 GMT+08:00