New Delhi, Mar.4 (ANI): Expressing dismay and shock over Tuesday's terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, former Indian cricket captain-turned Congress politician Mohammad Azharuddin said on Wednesday that chances of Pakistan co-hosting the World Cup in 2011 have receded to a great extent
"It's a very big loss, especially for Pakistan cricket, I don't think any team would want to go there and play now," said Azharuddin in an exclusive interview to ANI.
He further went on to say that it would take years for the international cricketing community to even consider making a trip to Pakistan in the wake of the incident that left seven Sri Lankan players injured and killed six Pakistani policemen.
"It will take lot of time and it will take lot of effort for the Pakistan authorities to get cricket on their side again. It was a very dastardly attack. It should not have happened, they could have avoided it," he said.
Some times things don't go your way, I am very sorry for whatever has happened. I feel sorry for the Sri Lankan players, especially the players who got injured. I think they were very brave. In the morning I saw them talking, giving interviews, I thought they were very brave and I think they really kept themselves very well," the former Indian captain said.
He also said that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) now had a humungous task to get cricket in the country back on the rails
"I am sure it would take a lot of time for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to get cricket again into Pakistan. So, it will take a massive effort, a massive effort and it will take massive convincing from top to bottom," Azharuddin said.
When asked whether Tuesday's terror strike has changed the game of cricket and the way it is played, the former Indian cricket captain replied in the affirmative.
"Well things have changed. When you do something to the sports...sports have no barrier and I don't think someone should do something like that, it is very unfortunate but I think we need lot of security for sports in general," he said.
Azharuddin's comments came a day after ten to 12 terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan cricketers convoy at the Liberty Circle roundabout in the heart of Lahore and just meters away from the Gaddafi Stadium, which was playing host to the second cricket Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The attackers were well armed, and were carrying provisions, suggesting that they planned to take the Lankan players hostage. The players had to be airlifted by helicopter to Lahore Airport, and then were flown back home in a chartered Air Lanka flight.
While the Pakistan Government has assured the Sri Lankan Government of a thorough probe into the incident, and capture of the perpetrators of the attack, there are rumors in circulation that it was an Al Qaeda/Lashkar-planned operation similar to the one that took place in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
Authorities in Islamabad are claiming the role of a foreign hand in the incident, but this is yet to be proved. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)