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Zulqarnain skips ODI, lands in England

LONDON: Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider arrived in London on Monday after skipping his team’s one-day match against South Africa in Dubai.

Zulqarnain Pakistan NewsHaider flew to Heathrow Airport aboard a flight from the United Arab Emirates, where he had been scheduled to play in the deciding one-day international in the series against South Africa.

Team officials had reported Haider as missing to police and the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption and security unit. The same unit helped investigate an alleged betting scandal involving three Pakistan players during a test against England in August.

On Haider’s Facebook page, he wrote earlier Monday that he was ”leaving Pakistan cricket because (he) got (a) bad message from one man to lose the last game.”

Haider scored the winning run in the fourth ODI against South Africa on Friday to clinch a one-wicket victory for Pakistan that leveled the five-match series at 2-2 and set up the final match at Dubai International Cricket Ground.

”The information shared with the PCB by local authorities indicates that Mr. Haider has left the UAE for the United Kingdom,” the PCB said in a statement. ”The PCB continues to monitor this situation and is in regular contact with concerned authorities in this regard.”

The PCB said a ”full inquiry” will be held into the ”circumstances surrounding this incident” and ”no further comments will be made until the facts are known.”

The ICC said it was aware of Haider’s disappearance. A Dubai police spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

A private television channel reported that it received a text message from Haider in which he said he was leaving for England in the next two hours and that his family would be provided with security back in Pakistan. It was impossible to verify the authenticity of that text message.

Haider’s brother, Aqeel Haider, told the channel that he had not had any contact with the player on Monday and was ”praying for him.”

”I spoke to him last night, but he did not say anything about threats,” he said. ”I have not received any SMS or telephone call from him. He has not contacted with any of the family member as yet. We tried to contact him in the hotel too, but didn’t succeed.”

Police have also beefed up security at Haider’s house in Lahore, according to senior police official Sahahzada Salim, ”to avoid any untoward incident.”

The disappearance of Haider is the latest setback for a Pakistan team that has been troubled by matters off the pitch.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s team manager Intikhab Alam told The Associated that Haider and two other players had been fined for breaking curfew during the team’s series with South Africa.

Alam said opener Shahzaib Hasan, spinner Abdul Rehman and Haider were fined 500 dirhams ($136) for staying out late in Abu Dhabi, where the series began last month. Alam had said Sunday that all three would be available to play Monday.

In August, Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were accused of involvement in an alleged betting scandal during a test in England.

The ICC described the allegations against the trio as the sport’s biggest fixing scandal in decades. It charged the trio with corruption in September and suspended them after a British tabloid sting alleged money was paid for bowling no-balls at prearranged times against England to fix spot-betting markets. -AP

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