The absurdity that is the off- and on-field shenanigans of the Pakistan cricketers just moved up a notch and became outright bizarre. Maybe even more.
Wicketkeeper Zulqarnain, who had been so pivotal in winning the fourth one-day against South Africa last week, seemingly disappeared before the final game today; he then appeared equally mysteriously in England; and now there is a message on what is supposed to be his Facebook page saying that he is “leaving pakistan cricket because get bad msg fr 1 man fr lose the match in last game.”
I have no idea what to make of this. Is this for real? Is this a hoax? Is this another facebook scam? Or is this another cruel joke being played by fate on cricket lovers in Pakistan. Whatever it is, it is now all over the internet and a cause of deepening despair amongst Pakistani cricket fans. Deeper now that we lost of the fifth and final one-day game, and therefore also the series after having performed so valiantly in the last games.
Here are the details as reported in The Express Tribune. It is clear that no one yet knows what the story is. But it is quite clear that – true or not – it is not a pretty story.
DUBAI: 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, Director Media Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Nadeem Sarwar confirmed that Haider was missing, while team manager Intikhab Alam said that he cannot comment on this situation as yet. Sarwar also said that the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Dubai Police had been informed about the situation.
Haider left a message on his Facebook page saying that he is leaving the cricket team because he was told to lose the match by a man.
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.
Haider was also fined 500 dirhams on Sunday after he broke curfew hours imposed by the team management. Meanwhile, Umar Akmal has started preparations to replace Haider as wicketkeeper for today’s match, while Muhammad Yousuf and Shahzeb has also been included in the team.