Troubled New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder was in a critical condition in hospital on Thursday after an "extremely vicious" attack as he left a bar in Christchurch, police said.
The 28-year-old was in an induced coma with a fractured skull and serious internal injuries, and his family were at his bedside.
The attack in the South Island city came just days before the talented batsman was to take up a lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) contract. Ryder has a history of disciplinary lapses and alcohol-related incidents, but although he had been drinking before the early morning assault, police said alcohol was not a factor.
Detective senior sergeant Brian Archer said there was a brief altercation involving Ryder and "two or three" people when he stepped outside the bar.
Ryder then crossed the road to a nearby fast-food outlet where he was attacked.
"The hospital advised he is in a critical condition. He is in an induced coma as a result of suffering multiple injuries," Archer said.
Police believed there were at least 10 witnesses, one of whom, Emma-Louise Ferguson, told the New Zealand Herald it was "unbelievably brutal".