The increasingly bizarre case of Zulqarnain Haider took a series of contradictory twists yesterday with the Pakistan wicketkeeper first announcing that he had quit the game before later saying he had "no issues" over playing for his country again. At first he also denied he was seeking asylum in the United Kingdom before later seemingly changing his mind on that too, although he maintained all along that he and his family did receive "death threats" over demands that he help fix the result of two one-day internationals against South Africa.
But whatever the future holds for Haider, hopes among cricket's authorities that Pakistan were beginning to get to grips with the corruption problems that have threatened to engulf the side have been shattered by his claims that he was approached to fix the two games in Dubai. Meanwhile his brother said that the wicketkeeper felt "pressure" from within the squad.
Haider is staying in a hotel near Heathrow. Immigration officials and police officers spoke to him again yesterday and he is expected to remain in Britain for the time being.
It was only last week that the International Cricket Council praised the Pakistan Cricket Board for the measures it has put in place in the wake of this summer's spot-fixing scandal in England. Last month the ICC issued the PCB with an ultimatum that it must clean up its act or face the possibility of sanctions. The PCB has revised its code of conduct for players – Haider was one of three fined for a minor curfew infraction this weekend – with an emphasis on anti-corruption. It led Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, to say he was "impressed" with the progress being made.
Haider was reported yesterday to have said that he has spoken to members of the ICC's anti-corruption unit, but that was contradicted by Lorgat last night as the ICC released a statement offering their support to the PCB's investigation. He said: "We understand his plight if reports are indeed true, but we can only help if he is willing to engage with us."
Yesterday, while his wife and father appeared on TV pleading for him to come home, Haider, 24, added further detail to his initial claims made on Monday. "I was approached by one person who asked me to fix the fourth and fifth matches and there would be problems for me if I did not do it," Haider told Pakistan's Geo Television. "One man threatened me but I felt behind us there were two or three more men. I don't know who they were or who was the man who threatened me. That man said, 'Come into our circle and you will get a lot of money, but if you don't you will be in trouble'.
"There is a threat to me and my family therefore I am leaving international cricket. The country is like a mother and anyone who sells it cannot get anything in life. I did not want to sell my mother. I did not want to sell my country and I did what I thought was better. I was afraid if I spoke to [the team's management] word could have gone out and I would have faced problems.
He went on to say that he felt "safe" being in the UK. "I think it is better for me to live here. I have advised my family members to be patient and I will try to get them here, too."
But in a later interview the player, who scored the winning runs in the fourth one-day international before fleeing on the morning of the fifth, said: "I have no intentions of applying for political asylum at this stage and, if the Pakistan government is ready to give me assurance of security for me and my family, I am ready to return to Pakistan. I have no issues playing for Pakistan, again provided the Pakistan Cricket Board wants me to play."
His brother, Raiza, told Bloomberg: "He said [he's had] some internal issues and some threats from unknown persons so he's a bit scared. Throughout the series he was saying, 'I'm in pressure, I'm in pressure'."
How the match in question unfolded
Set 275 to win the one-day international last Friday in Dubai – and to tie the series at two matches apiece – Pakistan lost wickets at crucial moments after a strong start and relied on Zulqarnain Haider's 19 not out to see them over the line:
6-1 Pakistan lose their first wicket with the last ball of the first over, as Imran Farhat is trapped lbw by Morne Morkel.
64-2 After a cavalier 42 from 29 balls Mohammad Hafeez is lbw to Dale Steyn.
120-3 A stand of 56 is ended when Asad Shafiq is run out by Wayne Parnell's throw.
131-4 Fawad Alam chips the ball to David Miller at extra cover.
171-5 Shahid Afridi is caught in the deep by Parnell, off the bowling of Johan Botha.
220-6 Younis Khan's cautious 73 ends with a rare mistake as he plays on.
220-7 Abdur Rehman is run out having taken a suicidal run to mid-off.
244-8 Abdul Razzaq gets a thin edge and is caught behind.
272-9 Wahab Riaz embarks on a mad run, Haider sends him back and Riaz is run out.Reuse content