Why did terrorists in Pakistan attack Sri Lankan cricketers?
On March 3rd, unknown terrorist gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, the old capital of the Punjab and second city of Pakistan. Six police guards were killed, but the cricketers escaped.
The story is nasty in a standard way, and very odd in others.
The easiest anomaly to explain is the survival of the cricketers. They were lucky – but also made their own luck. They came from a society with its own long history of terrorism by the Tamil Tiger separatists. Besides, they were professional athletes: very fit young men, with the quick reactions selected for by any ball game, and honed by its high-level practice. Cricket may look languid, as games last so long; but the ball is hard, like a baseball, may be bowled at 90 mph, and it’s legitimate to aim at the batsman’s head or body to intimidate him. The fielders are expected to take catches of mis-hit balls travelling at only slightly lower speeds, barehanded. At this level, you have to be pretty brave as well as quick. So when the team heard gunshots outside their bus, they did the right thing: they dived for the floor and shouted to the driver to keep going. And it worked.
Clip of highlights from a recent match between India and Sri Lanka: