The team, on a playing tour of New Zealand, was en route to Masjid Al Noor mosque for prayers when the tragedy unfolded.
“We must have been about 50 yards from the mosque,” team manager Khaled Mashud told ESPNcricinfo in the video below. “I would say we were really lucky. Had we reached even three or four minutes earlier, we probably would have been inside the mosque.”
As their bus approached, the players saw “blood-stained people staggering out the mosque,” Mashud said in the video. The players stayed on the bus for several minutes with their heads bowed to avoid potential flying bullets, he explained.
They made phone calls to find out what exactly was going on and then journalists accompanied the players on foot through a back gate to the Hagley Oval cricket ground, less than a mile away, according to Mashud and ESPN cricket reporter Mohammad Isam, who joined the players at one point.
The decision to leave for the ground was fateful, Mashud said, because the shooting continued outside. The players later returned to their hotel, where they remained in lockdown.
“Entire team got saved from active shooters,” batsman Tamim Iqbal tweeted, per the BBC. Another player, Mushfiqur Rahim, noted that the team was “extremely lucky” to avoid the tragedy.
New Zealand Cricket said the host team’s Saturday test against Bangladesh was canceled and that the visiting squad was flying back to Bangladesh as soon as possible.
“We are shocked and appalled, as I am sure all New Zealanders are,” NZC CEO David White said.
“We are offering support to all those within the teams affected by the situation and are continuing to take advice from authorities on the ground.”
A suspected gunman is in custody and has been charged with murder for the attack. Three others suspects were also apprehended.