The Bangladesh cricket team were almost caught up in Friday’s mosque shootings in Christchurch.
The team, who have been on tour in New Zealand, arrived for prayers at the Deans Avenue mosque when the attack was in progress. According to reports they were told to stay on the bus before making their way on foot back to the Hagley Oval cricket ground.
Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim admitted he and his team-mates had been “extremely lucky”, with 40 people believed to have been killed in the attacks at the Deans Avenue and Linwood Avenue mosques.
The team arrived at the mosque after completing media duties ahead of the third Test against New Zealand, which has now been cancelled.
Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted: “Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers.”
Mushfiqur wrote on the social media site: “Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque…we r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us.”
The Bangladesh team said that all players in Christchurch were now safely back in their hotel.
On Twitter, the Black Caps confirmed the match at the Hagley Oval, due to begin on Saturday, had been cancelled in light of the events.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch. A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test. Again both teams and support staff groups are safe,” the team said.
New Zealand Police said that three men and one woman had been taken into custody.
David Richardson, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, said in a statement: “Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by this horrendous incident in Christchurch.
“Both teams, staff and match officials are safe and the ICC fully supports the decision to cancel the Test match.”
The cancellation of the third and final Test means New Zealand win the series 2-0.
New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams, a practising Muslim, said he was “deeply, deeply saddened” by the attack.
In an emotional speech to camera that he shared to social media, the 33-year-old said: “Just heard the news and I couldn’t put it into words how I’m feeling right now. Just sending out my duas, inshallah everyone that’s been killed today in Christchurch.
“Inshallah you guys are all in paradise and yes I’m just deeply, deeply saddened that this would happen in New Zealand.”
“Duas” is the Arabic for prayers while “inshallah” means “God willing”.
The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), a body which acts on behalf of players, said it would offer its “full support” to the players’ associations of Bangladesh and New Zealand.