Cricket has seen several many bad days, but most of these have had to do with events on the pitch. Nothing, however, comes close to the horrific events of six years ago on this day, March 3, 2009, which led to Pakistan being stripped of their 2011 World Cup hosting rights.

The footage from the accompanying videos is chilling. Sri Lanka, who were touring Pakistan, had actually stepped in for India who had declined to visit following the Mumbai 2008 attacks. The Lankans were making their way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on the third morning of the second Test.

As the team bus crossed Liberty Square, 12 armed gunmen fired at the bus. A minivan following the bus carrying the match officials was also fired upon. Pakistan's security forces fired back and in the ensuing gunbattle, six Pakistani officers and two civilians were killed.

Seven Sri Lankan cricketers: Thilan Samaraweera, Kumar Sangakkara, Tharanga Paranavitana, Ajantha Mendis, Chaminda Vaas, Mahela Jayawardane, and Suranga Lakmal sustained injuries, with Samaraweera and Paranavitana being admitted to hospital because of shrapnel injuries. The team's assistant coach Paul Farbrace and reserve umpire Ahsan Raza were also seriously injured.

The world watched in stunned disbelief as the Sri Lankan cricket team were airlifted from the stadium in helicopters belonging to the Pakistani Air Force. They were put on the next available flight to Colombo. In his Spirit of Cricket lecture, Sangakkara provided a chilling first-hand account of events, "I feel something whizz past my ear and a bullet thuds into the side of the seat, the exact spot where my head had been a few seconds earlier. I feel something hit my shoulder and it goes numb. I know I had been hit, but I was just relieved and praying I was not going to be hit in the head."


There was widespread criticism of Pakistan's security arrangements. Some arrests were made with the blame being put on the terrorist agency Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. But from a cricketing point of view, Pakistan's fate was sealed. For six years, no cricket team agreed to tour, and they were forced to play their home matches in neutral territory. It was only last year that a Zimbabwe team finally visited Pakistan to bring an end to the exile.

But Pakistan still remains off-limits for most elite international teams and it will take a lot to erase the horror of those events on that fateful day in March 2009.