The police cordon outside the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.
Photo: Mark Baker (AP)

The Bangladesh national cricket team is on tour in New Zealand and had just arrived outside a mosque in Christchurch when they heard gunfire erupt inside. The mosque was one of two targeted in the right-wing terrorist attack that left 49 dead in what Prime MinIster Jacinda Ardern has called “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

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Seventeen cricketers were on the team bus to Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque, where 41 people were killed. They had been scheduled to arrive earlier, but the morning’s press conference had run long; that may have made all the difference.

Team manager Khaled Mashud:

“We must have been about 50 yards from the mosque. I would say we were really lucky. Had we reached even three or four minutes earlier, we probably would have been inside the mosque. This could then have been a massive incident.”

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According to ESPN Cricinfo correspondent Mohammad Isam, the players were about to get off the bus and enter the mosque when they “heard shooting and a lot of people running out and they saw someone wounded in front of them.” One of the players called Isam and told him to call the police. The team stayed on the bus for about 10 minutes before returning—on foot—to the nearby Hagley Oval, site of the team’s upcoming test against New Zealand.

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The players later returned to their hotel, with many tweeting to let fans know they were okay.

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The cricketers and the team’s support staff were unharmed but shaken—Mashud described players crying on the bus—and Saturday’s scheduled test, the third of three, has been called off. The team, which has been on tour in the country for a month, will travel home to Bangladesh in the next few days.