New Zealand is known as the land of peace. But a tragic incident happened there, on this day, two years ago.
Two consecutive mass shootings occurred at Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Mosque in Christchurch on March 15, 2019, which killed 51 people and seriously injured at least 50 more.
Bangladesh team was in Christchurch for the third test against the Black Caps at Hagley Oval, which was scheduled to start the following day. Instead of stepping out onto the picturesque Hagley ground, the Tigers were fleeing the city under police guard to fly home.
They narrowly avoided being inside the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Ave for the Friday prayer session.
Seventeen Bangladesh players and support staff were minutes away from being inside the mosque when the gunman opened fire.
Khaled Masud Pilot, the team manager of that tour, later revealed that the players and staff were merely 50 yards away when the shooting began.
Had they reached the spot a couple of minutes earlier, it would've been all over.
A late-running one-on-one football game between Taijul Islam and Mushfiqur Rahim apparently saved the Bangladesh cricket team from being caught up in the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's ODI skipper, said that the team was saved because of Taijul Islam. Taijul played football with Mushfiqur Rahim and didn't want to leave until he could get better of Mushi. That's why the players' journey to the mosque was delayed.
"In the dressing room, we got engaged in a game of football. Taijul [Islam] didn't want to lose, but the others wanted him to lose in that game. Taijul and Mushfiq [Rahim] were having a one-on-one game, which took up a few more minutes. These little things saved us in the end," Tamim told ESPNCricinfo at the time.
A drawn-out press conference also contributed.
"The bus was scheduled to leave at 1.30 pm, but Riyad bhai had gone to the press conference. A bit of time was spent there, and after finishing the press conference, he came to the dressing room."
During the lockdown last year, Tamim Iqbal hosted some live sessions with some cricketers to keep the fans entertained.
During one of his live sessions, Taijul Islam joined in, and that tragic incident of Christchurch came up in the discussion.
"If Taijul were not up to mischief that day, none of us except Liton Das would be alive today. Taijul's speciality is that he never wants to lose (about the football match with Mushfiqur)."
"If we had reached two minutes before, we would've been shot dead. Taijul was playing one-to-one football with Mushfiqur. That's why we were 3-4 minutes late. We were saved because of Taijul," Tamim added.
Remembering the massacre, Taijul Islam said, "First of all, thanks to Almighty Allah for saving us that day. You all know how determined I am to win. I had to win the contest that day at any cost."
The third test match was cancelled immediately, and the Bangladesh team came back home shortly after that.
The Bangladesh team, however, returned to Christchurch almost after two years. They were in 14-day isolation there ahead of their series against New Zealand. Speaking to the media last week at the end of quarantine, captain Tamim Iqbal said the experience had been traumatising and took significant time to recover.
He was reluctant to recount those memories and said New Zealand was a lovely country. He also praised the work of prime minister Jacinda Ardern following the mosque attacks and said if he got the opportunity to meet her, he would personally thank her.
"New Zealand has given us a lot of good reason to come here, and I'm sure in the future we won't hesitate to come because apart from that incident, New Zealand has been fantastic."
"I should mention the prime minister. The way she acted during those difficult times was something that all Bangladeshis really appreciated. I think she did a fantastic job."
Australian Brenton Tarrant pleaded guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.