Sri Lanka, Pakistan return to Tests after attack

03 July 2009

Colombo:Four months after a deadly terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan, the two nations will renew their Test cricket rivalry when the first Test starts at Galle from Saturday.

Their last meeting in a Test grabbed world headlines for a bloody ambush outside Gadaffi Stadium that killed six police officers and a driver and wounded seven Sri Lankan cricketers.

The Sri Lanka team bus was approaching the ground for the third day's play of the second Test when more than a dozen heavily armed men ambushed the vehicle.

The incident forced the visiting team to return to Colombo immediately and the match was abandoned.

Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera's rare feat of scoring two consecutive double-hundreds was a highlight of the series along with Younis Khan's triple-hundred for Pakistan in the first Test.

Samaraweera had a bullet lodged in his thigh in the attack, raising concern for his cricket future. But the bullet missed important tissues and ligaments in the leg, allowing him to make a comeback.

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, who is leading the national team for the first time in a Test match, says Samaraweera has fully recovered and has prepared well for the series.

"He has made a good return to cricket. He has played in some practice matches. We are enthusiastically looking forward to see him play in the first Test," Sangakkara told a news conference ahead of the series.

Opening batsman Tharanga Paranavitana, who sustained a chest wound in the attack, will also be taking part in an international match for the first time since the ambush.

Among the other wounded players, Ajantha Mendis and Sangakkara have already played in the recent World Twenty20 and the Indian Premier League.

With memories still fresh, Sri Lankan authorities are providing the two teams with a security equal to that of a head of state, including restrictions on the fans.

Sri Lanka Cricket says spectators are banned from consuming alcohol or lighting firecrackers inside the venue at Galle.

Spectators are no longer allowed to bring in musical instruments, although the match sponsor will arrange for music in order to keep a cricket match tradition in Sri Lanka alive, cricket board secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said.

The two sides have played 34 Test matches previously, with Pakistan winning 15 and losing seven of those. Pakistan have only lost one Test in Sri Lanka, winning six and drawing five.