Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider, who went missing from the team’s hotel in Dubai on Monday, was spotted at Heathrow Airport in London, as his teammates went on to lose the series 3-2.
Reportedly, Haider had decided to leave upon receiving a threatening text message after he steered Pakistan to victory in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) on November 5.
Haider, who left the hotel silently and without taking any team member into confidence, was seen at the hotel’s reception around 6:30 am by Pakistan team manager Shahid Aslam. Haider said that he was going to meet a relative and would be back.
On Sunday night, Haider had taken his passport back from the team management. He told them that he needed it to buy a mobile phone sim. The next morning at approximately 8:30am, he posted a message on his Facebook page in broken English that read: “leaving Pakistan cricket because get bad msg from 1 man fr lose the match in last game.” Later, he sent a text message to a television reporter saying he was going to London and requesting that his family be provided security.
The team management had been unaware of Haider’s whereabouts until 11 am when they were about to depart for the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium for the fifth and final ODI against South Africa.
According to the management, he wasn’t present at breakfast. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced that they will investigate the matter. According to a statement released by the PCB, they had informed the Dubai police of the incident and also brought it to the notice of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit. Earlier, Haider had been fined for breaking the night curfew. In 2006, Haider was arrested at the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Highway on charges of possessing alcohol. He was touring with the Pakistan ‘A’ for the EuroAsia Trophy.
The suggestion from Haider is that an illegal bookie had wanted Pakistan to lose the fourth game but, because he scored an unbeaten 19 to lead Pakistan to victory with one ball to spare, he is in danger.
In Pakistan, SSP Rana Faisal said that Haider’s family had been provided adequate security. “We have deployed a dozen police officials at Haider’s residence so that his family can be guarded properly if there is a threat,” Faisal told the media.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2010.