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Pakistan cricket chief seeks talks with runaway Haider

PCB official Zakir Khan is hoping to make contact with missing Pakistan player Zulqarnain Haider, pictured.
PCB official Zakir Khan is hoping to make contact with missing Pakistan player Zulqarnain Haider, pictured.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pakistan Cricket Board is still trying to locate Zulqarnain Haider, who has fled to London
  • Haider went missing from team hotel in Dubai after allegedly being threatened
  • Wicketkeeper was due to play in a one-day international against South Africa on Monday
  • Reports claim Haider received threats after a winning innings in a previous match

(CNN) -- Pakistan cricket officials want to speak to a member of the national team who left the team camp and reportedly retired after alleged threats to the player and his family.

It is the latest twist in a series of allegations that have tarnished the sport which is followed passionately in a number of countries including Pakistan and India.

In August, Pakistan's series against England ended amid uproar when three Pakistan players were implicated in a betting scandal.

Zakir Khan, the director of cricket operations for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), told CNN on Tuesday that he was trying to track down Zulqarnain Haider.

The 24-year-old wicket-keeper left the national team's hotel in Dubai, where Pakistan was playing a series against South Africa, without notice on Monday and headed for Britain.

According to media reports, he retired from international cricket on Tuesday morning having flown to London, where he was pictured arriving at Heathrow airport.

Blog: Cricket's authorities need to get a grip

On Tuesday Haider told Pakistan's Geo News channel -- a CNN affiliate -- that his move to London had been prompted by death threats after he refused to help fix matches.

PCB want talks with Haider

"There were lots of threats to me and my family. Some people offered me money [for match fixing/spot fixing], which I refused ... I have to please God. I did that which was best possible for my country," he said.

"I was told to cooperate or I would face lots of problems. This person approached me while I had gone out of the hotel for dinner. He told me cooperate with us and you can make a lot of money.

"He said, 'If you don't cooperate you will no longer be part of the team and we can make life very difficult for you.'"

Pakistan completed the series against South Africa on Monday in the United Arab Emirates, where Haider was allegedly threatened for not helping to fix matches before leaving.

"We are waiting for [confirmation] to come through to us, we have not heard anything from him in person [regarding his retirement] though there is a lot of media-related statements," added Khan.

"We have been trying to get through to him, to get hold of his family but nobody can give us satisfactory information about his whereabouts. It's a complete surprise what he has done at the moment."

The PCB confirmed Haider requested his passport on Sunday night and was then nowhere to be found the following morning, after scoring the winning runs to help Pakistan beat South Africa in the fourth match of their series on November 5.

He was later fined $140 for breaking a team curfew, along with teammates Shahzaib Hasan and Abdur Rehman.

Khan said he was disappointed that Haider did not ask the PCB for help.

"He is a contracted player and recently we went through with him the anti-corruption measures and what needs to be done if he was approached like this, but he has not followed any of these procedures.

We have been trying to get through to him, to get hold of his family but nobody [knows his] whereabouts
--Zakir Khan, Pakistan Cricket Board
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"We want to hear from him about what has happened, because there is a big process to go through. We are all shocked [about the allegations] and want to listen to him."

The UK Press Association quoted Rana Faisal, a senior superintendent of police in Lahore, as saying that 12 officials had been sent to Haider's family home "so that they can be guarded properly if there is any threat."

Khan would also not confirm whether Haider -- who has played one Test match (a long form match that can last up to five days) and four one-day games for his country -- would be welcome to return to the squad if any future talks with the player went well.

"We are going to investigate the matter in detail. It's too difficult to say at the moment [if he could return] as everybody is shocked and surprised at what has happened. Things were going right for Pakistan, we were back in the international arena, with wins against South Africa. Everything was going right and then this happened."

The International Cricket Council, the sport's ruling body, said that it would not be getting involved in the matter unless the player requested its help.

"First and foremost this is a matter for the Pakistan Cricket Board, although the ICC is willing to provide assistance to both Pakistan and the player himself," chief executive Haroon Lorgat told CNN.

"We are sympathetic to any player who finds themselves in this position. And we will help any player who is willing to come forward and we hope Zulqarnain Haider decides to do so."

Pakistani journalist Azhar Javaid told CNN that he had talked to Haider and said that the player "was a little confused."

"It is my understanding that he's regretting his decision to come to London from Dubai in this manner," said Javaid, the UK correspondent for Pakistan Dunya TV.

"He wants to go back to Pakistan. There is tremendous pressure from his family and also Pakistani people over there. I think he has been misguided by some people and he took this decision in this manner."

Javaid said he had also talked to Pakistan's London High Commission, which said Haider had no case to apply for asylum.

"He's not a very big player -- he's just a wicket-keeper and he's struggling for his position," added Javaid. "He has the pressure that Kamran Akmal might come back."

South Africa won Monday's match in Dubai by 57 runs and completed a 3-2 series win over Pakistan.