Zulqarnain lands in England after Dubai no-show

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2010, 00:28 AM IST

London: Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider has arrived in England after mysteriously disappearing hours before the fifth and final one-day international against South Africa in Dubai.

Television pictures clearly showed Zulqarnain arriving at Heathrow Airport on Monday afternoon.

Earlier, Pakistan’s team management said the keeper was last seen at the team’s hotel in Dubai early in the morning.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Zulqarnain had not informed them he was planning to leave the hotel nor had he told them the reason for his sudden decision.

“A full inquiry will be held into the circumstances surrounding this incident and no further comment will be made until the facts are known,” the PCB said in a statement.

In a message on his Facebook account, Zulqarnain appeared to suggest he was worried about his personal safety after receiving threats.

“Leaving Pakistan cricket because get bad messages for lose the match in last game,” he wrote.

Pakistan officials reported Zulqarnain’s disappearance to the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Security unit, as well as local police.

The 24-year-old scored an unbeaten 19 and hit the winning runs as Pakistan levelled the five-match series 2-2 in the fourth one-dayer on Friday.

Threatening Messages

His brother Reza told Reuters from Lahore that Zulqarnain had expressed fears after receiving threatening messages.

“The last time I spoke to him he told me he was getting threatening messages after the fourth match and to pray for him,” said Reza before adding his family was in touch with Zulqarnain and concerned about his safety.

“We would like to know a lot of things like why did the PCB management give him his passport, were they aware of the threats he had got?”, Reza said.

The PCB said Zulqarnain had asked Pakistan officials for his passport.

“Zulqarnain was in possession of his passport at the time he left the hotel, which he had taken from the team management the previous evening for personal use,” said the board.

PCB legal adviser Tafazzul Rizvi told Reuters that Zulqarnain had breached his central contract.

“He will definitely face an inquiry and disciplinary action whenever he contacts us. But we are concerned about this whole situation,” said Rizvi.

Lahore police official Rana Faisal said they were investigating Zulqarnain’s disappearance.

“We have received no official complaint but taking note of the media reports we have sent some officers to his house (in Lahore) to find out details,” Faisal said.

Zulqarnain has played one test, four one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games for Pakistan.

Bureau Report

A Geo News correspondent also received a similar message from Haider’s mobile number which said he was “leaving cricket as someone is threatening him.”

The SMS received on correspondent Sohail Imran’s mobile phone said, “Match haar jao (Lose match).”

Later the wicket-keeper informed Geo News through another SMS that he was leaving for England and that security should be provided to his family in Lahore.

The PCB Media Manager Sarwar said Haider had obtained his passport from the team management a few days back, saying he had some urgent work with it.

Haider shone in the fourth match against South Africa two days back, hitting the winning stroke and scoring an unbeaten 19 to help his team level the five-match series 2-2.

The Pakistan team management in view of Haider’s absence made three changes in the squad for the final match, surprisingly bringing in senior batsman Muhammad Yousuf, Umar Akmal and Shahzaib Hasan in place of Haider, Asad Shafiq and Imran Farhat.

Geo News reported that police had reached the team hotel and was investigating the matter with the Chairman of the Pakistan Board, Ijaz Butt also present in the hotel.

Zulqarnain’s brother, Reza confirmed that when he last spoke to his younger brother he had mentioned that he was getting some threatening messages from an unknown person.

“He was worried and concerned about himself and his family’s safety,” Reza said.

He said Zulqarnain had informed that he started getting messages before the fourth match that Pakistan won to level the series 2-2.

Nadeem Sarwar told reporters that the team management had got in touch with the Dubai police and the ICC anti-corruption unit to find out if Zulqarnain had actually left the country from some airport for England.

Meanwhile, a senior police official, Rana Faisal of the Lahore police said that although the family of the wicketkeeper has not made any official complaint about getting any threatening messages, security was being provided at their home.

PTI