Samaraweera reveals Lahore shooting incident taught him to enjoy cricket
Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera has revealed how he went within centimetres of paralysis after being shot during the notorious Lahore terrorist attack that rocked world cricket, and added the horrific incident taught him to enjoy cricket.
Samaraweera is a key plank in Sri Lanka's top order, with the 36-year-old having amassed 5383 runs at a world-class mark of 50.78 entering the first Test against Australia at Bellerive Oval.
But the batting veteran admits he is fortunate to be alive after narrowly surviving the horrific shooting in March 2009, when 12 masked Pakistani terrorists targeted Sri Lanka's team bus with grenades, rocket launchers and AK-47s.
Samaraweera was the worst casualty, with one bullet entering his upper thigh and stopping at his knee after ripping through 12 inches in his left leg.
It perhaps explains why the 75-Test veteran, his mindset and warm smile steeled by perspective, is no longer fazed by failure in cricket.
"That three minutes in Lahore changed my life. Mentally I am stronger from the incident. We never thought we would survive that shooting. That three minutes felt like six hours in the bus, so many bullets going this way and that way," News.com.au quoted Samaraweera, as saying.
"I had one bullet hit me in the thigh and it travelled 12 inches inside my leg. The doctors gave me the bullet to keep. They said if the bullet hit the bone, I wouldn't have played cricket again. They said if it hit my nerve, I was paralysed and I wouldn't walk again," he added.
"Thankfully both never happened. A few centimetres and I would have been paralysed. I thought I would never play cricket again but luckily I got a chance to play again," he said.
Samaraweera added: "The Lahore shooting taught me to enjoy my cricket. I am a much better player now, I am more experienced and I am used to the pace and bounce in Australia."