Pak wicketkeeper seeks refuge in London after 'threat'

It's a shocking expansion which comes as another body blow for match-fixing tainted Pakistan cricket. Following alleged threats from bookies after having masterminded Pakistan's narrow win in last Friday's fourth ODI against South Africa in Dubai, wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider took the extreme step of escaping from the limits of the team hotel, skipping Monday's fifth ODI without informing authorities and quietly boarding a flight to the UK.

After day-long drama and tense suspense over Haider's whereabouts, with the player being largely reported as 'missing', TV pictures later revealed Zulqarnain had arrived at Heathrow Airport on Monday afternoon. The only clue he left was a cryptic message on a public networking site, blaming threats from bookies for the drastic decision. Haider hinted the threats followed his crucial, unbeaten 19 in the fourth ODI, which helped Pakistan win by one wicket with one ball to spare.

Haider even texted a Pakistan journalist to take care of his family. That he did not have the confidence to trust the team management and confide in them, instead taking the drastic decision to leave on his own, could come as a disturbing pointer to the degree of infiltration by bookies and match-fixers into Pakistan's cricketing infrastructure. A Pakistan Cricket Board statement said a full inquiry would be launched into the extraordinary incident: "The PCB continues to monitor this situation and is in regular contact with concerned authorities. A full inquiry (will be held) into the circumstances."


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