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DAWN
 •  Smith faces race against time for first India Test

ABU DHABI: South Africa captain Graeme Smith faces a race against time to get fit for next month's first Test against India after an x-ray revealed an undisplaced fracture, the team manager said Tuesday.

The 29-year-old South African captain was unable to bat in South Africa's second innings in the second and final Test against Pakistan on Tuesday after spraining his right thumb and recurrence of his left hand finger injury.

Smith sustained the finger injury when he was hit by Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar during the first of five one-day matches last month which South Africa won 3-2.

Team manager Mohammad Moosajee confirmed: “Smith faces a race against time to get fit for the first Test (starting on December 16 at Centurion.”

South Africa host India for three Tests, five one-day internationals and a twenty20 match. The Test series is billed as a contest between the world's top two teams, with India number one in Test rankings and South Africa at two.

Moosajee said Smith has been advised to take a three-week rest.

“His fourth metacarpal in the left hand has an undisplaced fracture and the doctor said it will take two to three weeks rest to heal,” said the manager.

South Africa were thwarted by Pakistan in the second Test as the match and the two-match series heads for a draw. They had made 173-4 in their second innings for an overall lead of 323.

Smith batted through pain to score a brilliant hundred in the first Test in Dubai, which ended in draw last week. -AFP

 
 •  Gayle makes 333, Windies declare on 580 in Galle

GALLE: Chris Gayle was out for a career-best 333, one of Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis' six wickets before West Indies declared on 580-9 after tea on the second day Tuesday of the first test.

Sri Lanka lost Tillakaratne Dilshan for a duck but recovered to 54-1 at the close. Captain Kumar Sangakkara struck seven boundaries in an unbeaten 33, while Tharanga Paranavitana was 10 not out.

Gayle hit 34 boundaries and a West Indies record nine sixes in 437 balls spanning nearly 11 hours before being bowled by Mendis, who finished with 6-169 from 59 overs. Offspinner Suraj Randiv picked up three wickets.

''I am smiling because I know the people of the West Indies are smiling,'' Gayle said. ''I am happy that by my batting I can bring happiness to the people and give them something to cheer about.

''People back home are following the cricket very closely and it is good that they can start the day with some good news. A lot of people have been sending me congrats and I want to thank them for their support, not just for me, but for the team as well.''

Gayle, stripped of the captaincy in an argument with the West Indies Cricket Board, fell short of Brian Lara's world record of 400 but joined his former teammate, Don Bradman and Virender Sehwag as the only players to score two triple-hundreds.

Gayle's first was 317 against South Africa in 2005. It was the first triple-century by a West Indies player away from home, the highest by any player against Sri Lanka, and the first triple hundred at Galle International Stadium.

''It was not easy. It was hard work out there but I enjoyed it,'' Gayle said. ''333 ... I'm very happy to achieve another major milestone. I want to say thanks to the guys who supported me and batted so well alongside me. At one stage the bat started to get quite heavy in my hand but the others were telling me just to carry on, stay out there, and get as many as I could.''

Gayle was involved in three century partnerships, 110 with opener Adrian Barath (50), 196 with Darren Bravo (58 on debut) and 167 with Brendan Nash (64).

But after Mendis trapped Nash lbw with the score on 559, the visitors lost six wickets for 21 runs. Gayle was more sedate on Tuesday, having hit eight sixes in a brutal attack on the first day. Nash praised the way Gayle paced his innings but said he was disappointed by the collapse.

''A bit disappointed by the last five wickets that we lost,'' Nash said. ''Mendis bowled very well, we had to look at him and work out a game plan against him with the wicket breaking up a little bit.''

Of the team's course on day three, Nash said: ''We need wickets early. I think we are on top at the moment. I think Sri Lanka is used to scoring big runs, we have a young bowling attack experience-wise.

''With this sort of wicket and with the batsmen that have to come, we have to really be on our game, stick to our game plan.''

Mendis said it was difficult bowling because the pitch was unhelpful.

''My plan was to stick to a good line and length because there was no turn,'' he said. ''We devised all our plans against him (Gayle) and it served well that he got out. He was the only threat.''

Mendis, who shoulders the responsibility left by offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who retired from tests, said he and Randiv tried their best to make up for his absence.

''His void is still felt,'' Mendis added. Gayle survived a scare off the first ball on Tuesday when Sangakkara referred an lbw appeal to the television umpire Asad Rauf, who turned it down.

Another drama unfolded in the second session when Gayle, on 287, was surprised by a rising delivery from seamer Dammika Prasad and fended it to short extra cover where Sangakkara took an easy catch.

But non-striker Nash convinced Gayle to refer the decision to the third umpire, who ruled the batsman not out because television replays showed the bowler had overstepped for a no-ball.

Gayle drove powerfully through long off for a boundary to reach his triple century and knelt on the pitch holding his bat and helmet high in celebration.

By then, West Indies had surpassed its previous highest total against Sri Lanka: 477-9 declared in St. Lucia in 2003. -AP

 
 •  Umar Gul’s secret weapon

DUBAI: Pakistan pace bowler Umar Gul has claimed that he has added a new ‘secret’ delivery to his armoury on which he dismissed South African middle-order batsman A.B. de Villiers’ on the second day of the first Test on Saturday.

“This secret delivery is my new weapon which I will be using in the coming matches,” he said at the Dubai Stadium.

Umar took three wickets in 19 balls for just five runs to destroy the South African batting on day two, after failing to take a wicket on the first day. “I will try to use the new ball in the same way I used it this morning.

“Hopefully, Younis will be able to bowl another good spell from the other end to support me,” said the 26-year-old Peshawar-born pacer.

“After the opening day, we had a long chat with the coach. We felt that we had given away about 30 or 40 runs extra. So our strategy this morning was to stop the runs and get wickets. Thankfully, it worked for us,” Umar added.—APP

 
 •  Haider warns of match-fixing network

LONDON: A network of bookmakers trying to fix matches has created an atmosphere of fear and distrust in international cricket, Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

Haider fled the Pakistan team hotel in Dubai in secrecy on Monday and flew to London to seek asylum, claiming he received death threats to lose matches against South Africa.

Haider told the AP that international cricket “feels dangerous” and is plagued by a “big mafia” working to corrupt the sport.

The 24-year-old Haider said he prayed at his mother’s graveside for protection when he was selected for the current international series because he feared “bad people” hovered around the team.

Haider said he was approached by an unknown man in Dubai “two or three days” before the fourth one-day international against South Africa.

“I was going for dinner at a restaurant, was within walking distance from the hotel,” Haider said. “The man stopped me. I feel two or three others were around him.”

He said the threat was delivered coolly.

“He just talked normally,” Haider said. “He talked in Urdu, but I can't recognize his accent.”

Haider said the man was dressed in dark trousers and shirt, with a dark complexion and was clean shaven.

“He spoke calmly. He wasn’t angry or shouting and I just listened. He said if you work with us we will give you a lot of money and if you go back to Pakistan we will kill you and we will kill your family.”

Haider said he understood that to mean he should try to lose the fourth and fifth ODIs.
 
Haider was in a position to do just that when he came in to bat, but hit the winning runs as Pakistan claimed a one-wicket victory in the fourth match.

“The purpose of that talk was to disturb me,” he said. “I was not planning to make the runs before the match.”

Haider said the threats made the match a difficult experience.

“It was a crucial time when I went in (to bat). I was hoping the team would lose normally so maybe they (the match-fixers) would be happy (without me doing anything).”

“But when I go in it was a crucial time and I just performed at 150 percent for my team, my nation, my respect and my family.”

“When you see the first two or three matches, I was very energetic, but in the fourth ODI match you will see my expressions. I was very disturbed at that time. I felt very bad that day.”

Haider said he was not offered any specific sums.

Haider defended his decision not to seek help from his teammates or management instead of leaving the camp.

“I didn’t want to involve them in this problem. I took the stakes on my shoulders. In that situation I don’t want to trust anyone. There’s a big mafia all over the world of bookies trying to fix matches.”

Haider said the scandal surrounding match fixing in the Pakistan camp during the tour of England earlier this year added to his fears when he was approached in Dubai.

“In the summer tour many people talked about it and the ICC say many people are involved in that, so it was very difficult for me. The news said maybe others were involved, so I didn’t know who to trust.”

“I heard it was a very common thing now to approach players. When I know I was selected for matches with South Africa, I went to my mother’s graveside to be safe from that mafia of bad people. It (cricket) feels dangerous.”

Haider said he had been approached before to fix matches.

“When I was captain of Lahore two years ago, I was threatened to pick a player in the starting 11 and if I didn’t do that I would be abducted and killed. The next day I talked with my whole team and I just told them if anybody calls about any player they will not be picked. No discussion.”

Haider said that situation frightened him less because there is less money in domestic cricket.

He was subsequently stripped of the Lahore captaincy and played in a season-ending match in March 2009 with little-known Usman Sarwar, who conceded 78 runs in three overs as National Bank’s Salman Butt hit an astonishing 92 off 25 balls.

Butt was one of the three players arrested and under investigation for allegedly agreeing to fix spot betting markets against England.

“I think that was the reason I was removed from the captaincy was because I didn’t want to fix players,” Haider said, adding with a shrug: “But Salman Butt, he batted well.”

Haider scored an impressive 88 in the first match against England but was later sent home with a finger injury. Haider was unhappy with the decision.

“It was a little injury,” he said, with a smile. “It was internal politics, I think...”

Haider said it was the ICC’s job to clamp down on match-fixing.

“They need to tape players’ phones and check the players’ accounts around the world and where that money comes from,” he said.

Haider is hoping his family can get visas to join him in England in the coming months, if he is allowed to stay. His next asylum interview is on Dec 10. — AP

 
 •  ICC forms tribunal to hear Pakistani players' case

DUBAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday formed a three-man anti-corruption tribunal which will next month hear the case of three Pakistani players allegedly involved in spot-fixing.

Former Test captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer face charges of alleged spot-fixing during the tour of England which ended last month.

“The International Cricket Council (ICC) can confirm that, Michael Beloff QC, formally appointed an independent Anti-Corruption tribunal to determine the alleged breaches of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code by three Pakistan players,”the ICC said in a statement.

The tribunal will be made up of Beloff (as Chairman), together with two other Code of Conduct Commissioners - Justice Albie Sachs from South Africa and Sharad Rao from Kenya - as per the appointment procedure described in the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code.

It was also agreed that the full hearing would be scheduled to take place from January 6-11 next in Doha.

The decision to shift the hearing to Doha was taken as Asif is barred from entering in United Arab Emirates after he was deported in 2008 on possession of banned drugs.

“The three players were charged under article 2 of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code on 2 September 2010 and have been provisionally suspended since that date,” the release said.

Salman and Aamer had accused the ICC of delaying the verdict on the case last month but the ICC denied the accusation, saying they wanted an urgent solution to the case.

The scandal broke after a report by British tabloid The News of the World prompted Scotland Yard to launch an investigation into allegations of spot-fixing during the Lord's Test against England in August.

Police raided the team's hotel in London and questioned Salman, Aamer, Asif and bowler Wahab Riaz, but they have yet to level any charges.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended the trio and late last month rejected appeals from Salman and Aamer. Asif withdrew his appeal.

Last month Pakistan Cricket Board barred the three players from using practice facilities at the national cricket academy in Lahore before suspending their central contracts. -AFP

 
 •  Pakistan seek first Test series win in four years

DUBAI: Rival captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Graeme Smith geared up for a spin battle in the first Test starting here from Friday, as Pakistan seek their first series win in four years.

Pakistan’s last Test series win was against the West Indies at home in 2006 and since then they have lost six and drawn the remaining three, but newly inducted captain Misbah hopes his team makes a fresh start at Test cricket’s newest venue.

“We are focusing only on cricket and will play to our strength which is spin. We hope it’s a new beginning at a new Test venue,” said Misbah of the Dubai Stadium which becomes Test cricket’s 101st venue.

Misbah, who missed Pakistan’s last seven Tests after being left out of the team, was drafted in as captain after Test skipper Salman Butt was suspended along with bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir last month.

The three players were suspended after British newspaper News of the World claimed several Pakistani players obeyed orders from book-makers during Lord’s Test against England in August.

Misbah hinted at the inclusion of off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and left-arm slow bowler Abdul Rehman in the side, who will also get assistance from opener Mohammad Hafeez, who bowls off-spin.

“We have this option to include two spinners and looking at the nature of the pitch I think spinners will play a key role in the Test,” said Misbah who will become Pakistan’s fourth Test captain this year.

Wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal, brother of Kamran Akmal — not selected for the tour due to fitness problems — and Umar Akmal will make his debut after the only keeper of the tour, Zulqarnain Haider fled to London after receiving death threats.

South Africa, high on confidence after winning both of the preceding Twenty20 matches and five-match one-day series 3-2, were also pondering at the option of playing two spinners.

“There is definitely an option,” said Smith of playing off-spinner Johan Botha and left-armer Paul Harris. “We have done that in the Caribbean [in June this year] which proved successful for us.”

Smith stressed South Africa needed to win the two Test series and then against India at home.

“Our focus has shifted to five big Tests ahead of us,” said Smith whose team hosts India for three Tests next month. “We want to be as successful as possible in that format in which we have been successful in the last three years.”

Smith agreed the confidence level was high in South African camp.

“I think the players have gained confidence through the one-day win, but its going to be a new start on a venue which is used for the first time in Test cricket,” said Smith, who believes Dubai’s heat will be a big test for his players.

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi will host a Test for the first time after becoming Pakistan’s neutral venues since 2008 in the face of the security situation.

Pakistan, led by Shahid Afridi, lost the preceding Twenty20 series 2-0 and five-match one-day series 3-2 — a result Misbah hopes will not affect the Test performance.

“You always learn with time and experiences,” said Misbah. “We want to put all the problems behind us and give our best against South Africa.”

With Asif and Aamir missing in action, Pakistan’s bowling attack will rely heavily on pacemen Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami — recalled after being ignored for the England tour.

Pakistan’s batting will revolve around Younis Khan — who has not played a Test since July last year — and Yousuf, both having enormous experience.

South Africa will have no such problems. They have quality batsmen in Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers and enough bowling resources.

Wicket-keeper Mark Boucher returns to the squad after missing the limited over series.

Teams (from):
PAKISTAN: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Imran Farhat, Taufiq Umar, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Tanvir Ahmed, Mohammad Sami, Wahab Riaz

SOUTH AFRICA: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, A.B. de Villiers, J.P. Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (Sri Lanka) and Daryl Harper (Australia).
TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (Pakistan).
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe).—AFP

 
 •  Zulqarnain explains his position to PCB

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board chairman has spoken to Zulqarnain Haider and assured him of its full co-operation after the wicketkeeper left the squad in Dubai and went to London where he has applied for asylum.

Zulqarnain said PCB chief Ijaz Butt had spoken to him by telephone to find out the circumstances surrounding his sudden departure from the team hotel.

“I explained everything to him. I told him I was genuinely concerned about the threats given to me for not getting involved in any racket to fix matches in the one-day series against South Africa,” Zulqarnain told a private news channel on Thursday.

“I have told the PCB chairman everything and he has assured me that the board will provide me all assistance and cooperation,” the keeper said.

The PCB had been trying to make contact with Zulqarnain since Monday when he arrived in London and on Wednesday it suspended his contract pending further investigation into the incident.

Zulqarnain, 24, said he had applied for asylum in Britain after much thought.

“I am not stupid that I should give up my promising cricket career and leave my country to come to London. I did it for a reason and I feel safe in London,” he said.

HANDED OVER
He also said he had handed over two letters delivered to his room in Dubai to the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

Pakistan's High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, met Zulqarnain on Thursday, telling reporters he had listened to the player and that the embassy would provide legal assistance where it was required.

Zulqarnain said he was seeking asylum because he feared for his safety after being ordered to co-operate with match-fixers.

He also announced his international retirement after saying he was approached by a person who asked him to fix the recent fourth and fifth one-day internationals against South Africa.

Zulqarnain dismissed Pakistani media reports that he had taken money to flee the team.

“Anyone can check my accounts to see what my financial position is. I don't regret my decision. The same people who are trying to corrupt cricket are now trying to create this scandal about me taking money,” he said.

The wicketkeeper said he had no immediate plans to return to Pakistan because he feared for his life.

“When a prime minister like Benazir Bhutto could not be safe in Pakistan I am just an ordinary cricketer,” he said.

Zulqarnain also said he was happy that the ACU and British border and home officials were co-operating with him.

“I will not hold anything back from them,” he said.

 
 •  Haider reveals he fled in fear of his life

LONDON: Zulqarain Haider admitted on Wednesday that he fled to London because the wicketkeeper feared he and his family were in severe danger following an alleged match-fixing plot.

Haider held a press conference at a restaurant in Southall in London on Wednesday to reveal more about his controversial decision to quit Pakistan's one-day series against South Africa in Dubai.

The 24-year-old repeated his claims that he had received death threats after hitting the winning runs in Friday's fourth one-day match and explained how he had been approached to fix the result of that match and Tuesday's fifth game.

“It was very hard for me when I got threats from one person in Dubai,” he said. “I just felt very nervous that he gave me threats.”

Haider described the ultimatum he had been given, though insisted he did not know the identity of the person issuing the threat.

“He said, 'If you work with us, we will give you a lot of money,” Haider said. “'If (not and) you go back home, we will kill you and your family'.”

Confirming he believed he was being asked to throw the fourth and fifth ODI, Haider added: “I think they were interested to 'book' me for the fourth and fifth ODI.”

Haider arrived in England on Monday and immediately claimed asylum in order to gain entry to the country.

He said: “This country is very humane, very co-operative, and there are very nice people here and there are very good rules here for my safety. That's why I came here.”

However, Haider insisted he had no intention of claiming asylum permanently, adding: “I don't want any aid from the British government. I want to be a good citizen and I am a good citizen also in Pakistan. I want to live in peace.”

Haider revealed he had a meeting at Pakistan's High Commission in London on Wednesday and he said: “I wish they will protect my family because I have two daughters and a wife, so I want to be safe.”

Haider also confirmed he had met the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit.

“I just want cricket to be clear of any fixing and all bad things. The ICC's doing well in these things,” he said.

Explaining why he had chosen to flee Dubai rather than taking his concerns to the Pakistan Cricket Board, Haider said: “I didn't want to explain all things to my management because if I tell them, maybe it would create problems for my team-mates and my management.”

Haider insisted he had no knowledge of any other players being involved in match fixing or if they had been approached like him.

He added: “I think the best way is to record all the players' phones and all their activities.” Haider has faced accusations he did take a bribe but said: “Check all my accounts around the world.”

 
 •  Imran terms Dubai incident as shameful

KARACHI: Former captain and legendary all-rounder Imran Khan has called for a clean-up of Pakistan cricket and said wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider’s sudden exit to Britain to seek asylum was a “shameful” incident.

“It is really shameful the way he [Zulqarnain] left the team and reached London,” Imran said on Wednesday.

“At the moment we don’t know the facts that compelled him to do this but nevertheless it is another embarrassing moment for Pakistan and its people.

“Sadly, this incident only gives credence to the feeling our players are linked with bookmakers or are controlled by them,” added Imran. “The recent spot-fixing allegations have not been helpful at all for Pakistan cricket.”

Imran said he was never threatened in his 21 years in international cricket and called for a complete overhaul of cricket administration in Pakistan.

“We need to clean up the administration and the team and those players who, if they are involved in corruption, should not be spared,” added Imran.

“We need to do this since it is better than the Pakistani people facing shame and embarrassment on a daily basis because of our cricket.”

Imran dismissed the idea the ICC was against Pakistan.

“Those days are gone when only Australia, England and New Zealand could run world cricket. Whatever problems we face today it is because of our own shortcomings and mistakes.”—Reuters

 
 •  Haider suspended by Pakistan Cricket Board

ISLAMABAD: Zulqarnain Haider was suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Wednesday for abandoning the team in the United Arab Emirates before a match and fleeing to London.

The 24-year-old wicketkeeper quit the Pakistan team in Dubai and flew to Britain on Monday, claiming he received threats and was offered money to lose matches against South Africa. After Haider left, Pakistan lost the fifth and deciding one-day international to lose the series.

The PCB said Haider violated the terms and conditions of his contract. It also said the board had been unable to contact the cricketer.

''We have been trying to get in touch with him but unfortunately we have not established any link yet,'' PCB director of cricket operations Zakir Khan told Associated Press Television News. ''What we have heard so far is from him, via press and electronic media. We will like to know what went wrong.''

In interviews with a Pakistani television station, Haider has made conflicting comments about retiring from cricket and seeking asylum in Britain.

The alleged threats and match-fixing allegations are the latest setback for a Pakistan team already weighed down by accusations that three players were involved in a betting scandal during a test in England in August.

''Pakistan cricket will come out of this recent crisis that we had, and we will come out strong,'' Khan said.

Illegal betting on cricket matches is a multimillion dollar industry in South Asia. Betting syndicates stand to earn massive sums of money if they have ''fixed'' the result of the game, or moments in it, by paying players. The syndicates have also reportedly threatened players and their families who do not go along with them.

Former test captain Imran Khan, an influential figure in the game and a politician, said he was disappointed with Haider.

''It will be clear in the coming days what was behind this incident, but this is a shameful thing for our country,'' Imran Khan told a private news channel. -AFP

 
 •  Zulqarnain’s return depends on security, says wife

LAHORE: Pakistan wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider’s wife has said her husband is ready to come back to Dubai from London if provided security.

“We (the entire family) have been in talk with Zulqarnain for four hours to convince him to go back to Dubai to join the team and to face every situation with courage,” his wife told reporters at his residence on Tuesday.

Zulqarnain had left Dubai on Monday abruptly after reportedly receiving life threats from bookies. He has been quoted as saying that the bookies had asked him to book the fourth and fifth ODI against the Proteas, which he did not.

“We want to live and die in Pakistan and I don’t want to go anywhere,” she said.

Haider Raza, the father of Zulqarnain, said, “I told him (Zulqarnian) that death is a reality and he should not be afraid of threats.”

Zulqarnain’s brother Aqeel also denied a report that his brother had asked for a political asylum in the United Kingdom.

 
 •  ICC ready to come to 'death-threat' Haider's aid

LAHORE: Pakistan wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider has been offered “any help he needs” by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after his decision to retire citing death threats.

However, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the global governing body could only help Haider if “he is willing to engage with us”.

The 24-year-old failed to report in Dubai for Pakistan's one-day international against South Africa and subsequently flew to London having, Haider said, refused to take part in an alleged fixing plot.

An ICC statement said: “The ICC has today (Tuesday) confirmed that it is in regular communication with the Pakistan Cricket Board and has offered to support the PCB in its current investigations into the reasons behind wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider's decision to leave the Pakistan team on the morning of the final ODI (one-day international) against South Africa in Dubai.

“At the same time, the ICC has also offered Haider, who left the UAE (United Arab Emirates) for London, any help he needs.”Lorgat added: “Clearly this is in the first instance a team matter for Pakistan cricket but the ICC is willing to provide assistance to the PCB and the player.

“We understand his plight if reports are indeed true, but we can only help if he is willing to engage with us.”The latest scandal to hit Pakistan cricket follows a slew of spot and match-fixing allegations, and disciplinary problems.

PCB officials said said they had informed Dubai police of Haider's disappearance while Sky Television later broadcast images that it said were of Haider arriving at London's Heathrow Airport.

“I am retiring from international cricket,” Haider told Pakistan's Geo television by telephone from London.

“There is too much pressure on me, I have received death threats, my family has received threats,” he said in the interview, without naming anyone or elaborating in precise detail on why he was threatened.

The wicket-keeper said he was threatened in the team's hotel in Dubai, after playing a crucial knock of 19 not out in Pakistan's victory over South Africa in thre fourth ODI in the UAE on Friday.

“When I went out of the hotel to eat dinner once he came up. He was alone but I felt there were two-three people behind him. I can describe him. He spoke Urdu but I cannot describe the accent accurately,” Haider said.

“He said 'You will make lots of money if you join us and help us. If not, then staying in the team could be difficult and we can make things difficult for you.' I don't know why I was approached and others weren't.”

The PCB will investigate Haider's case and said he should have told managers about the threats, but the keeper said he kept quiet to protect other players.

“If I had told the PCB or players, it would've gotten out and then who knows? If I had told any of the other players, it might have put them in trouble also,” he said.

Haider, who made his international debut in 2007, played one Test, four one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games for Pakistan.

He played a gutsy knock of 88 in the Birmingham Test that prevented an innings defeat on Pakistan's tour of England in August, before he was sent home after injuring his finger. -AFP

 
 •  Nabi replaces Nawroz as Afghan captain for Asiad

GUANGZHOU: Afghanistan have named all-rounder Mohammad Nabi as captain for their Asian Games campaign, replacing Nawroz Mangal.

Despite being stripped of the captaincy, Mangal, under whose leadership Afghanistan gained one-day international status and qualified for the 2010 World Twenty20, has kept his place in the 14-man squad for the tournament that gets underway on Saturday.

Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Hamid Shinwari told www.cricinfo.com: “We have played 16 one-day internationals but we could only win nine.

“Therefore we thought the burden of captaincy is too heavy on Nawroz and Nabi is the next best choice.”

Mangal came under pressure after Afghanistan’s series defeat against Kenya in October and his own performances have been disappointing, with four successive scores of under 10.

Team manager Nazijar Abdul Rahimzai said the change in leadership was unlikely to affect Afghanistan’s preparations for Guangzhou.

“They (Mangal and Nabi) are still close friends and every player is participating regularly in the training,” he said.

Cricket is being played for the first time at the Asian Games, with organisers building a 12,000-seater cricket-specific stadium at the Guangdong University of Technology to host the tournament.

Cricket was last seen at a major multi-sport event at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. —AFP

 
 •  Adnan Akmal, Hafeez added to Pakistan’s Test squad

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday, announced the addition of two players to the national squad for the Test series against South Africa.

Wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal will join the squad in Dubai after Zulqarnain Haider left the Pakistan team on Monday, ahead of the fifth one-day international against South Africa.

Meanwhile all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez, already part of the Twenty20 and ODI squads, will replace leg-spinner Danish Kaneria in the side. Kaneria was mysteriously stopped by the PCB from joining the team in UAE on Sunday

Adnan Akmal, younger brother of wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and batsman Umar Akmal, will make his Test debut for Pakistan in the series after a string of impressive domestic performances.

Hafeez was Pakistan’s top scorer in the recently concluded ODI series with 203 runs, averaging 40 in five matches.

Pakistan will face South Africa in the first Test at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium starting Friday, November 12.

The second Test will be played at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium from November 20.

 
 •  Smith happy with South Africa’s success

DUBAI: South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said he was pleased with his side’s progress ahead of next year’s World Cup after clinching a 3-2 win in the one-day series against Pakistan.

“For me, the steps from where we were in the winter to where we are now, I think we have taken some big steps forward, which is good,” Smith said after his side’s 57-run win in the final one-day match in Dubai on Monday.

South Africa rode on an all-round performance from Jacques Kallis, whose 83 helped them to an imposing 317-5 before he took 3-30 to restrict Pakistan’s innings to 260.

Smith refused to be drawn on next year’s World Cup, to be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

“We are not predicting anything on the World Cup, there is a lot of cricket still to be played,” said Smith, 29, whose country has never won the tournament.

“Several guys made their debut against Pakistan in the one-day series, a lot of them have travelled to this part of the world for the first time and I think there has been lots of positives in the series.”

Pakistan’s two victories in the one-day series came by one wicket, and Smith said if South Africa had not missed opportunities they could have won 5-0.

“Those are the things we learn from and become more clinical, but there are lots of positives as all 15 players have contributed (in the series),” he said.

South Africa next host India for a series of three Tests and five one-dayers and Smith said the tourists would be a tough prospect.

“It is quite obvious that they (India) are number one Test team in the world and would be ideal to compete,” said Smith, who hailed 35-year-old all-rounder Kallis as one of the greatest players he played with.

“Throughout my career I ran out of things you say about Jacques (Kallis). He is an asset for South African cricket and when he does walk away from the game its going to be a big loss to us, but now we got him we want to make the most of him.”

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said he wanted improvement from his team in key areas.

“I think we did fight in all the matches, but after a critical analysis of the way we played I think we need to improve our fielding, fitness and batting in the middle overs,” he said.

“We have one more series against New Zealand before the World Cup, so we must step up in some areas before the big event and that is very important for us.”

Pakistan and South Africa now play two Tests – one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The series was moved to the United Arab Emirates due to security fears.

The first Test starts in Dubai on November 12. —AFP

 
 •  Zulqarnain lands in England after Dubai no-show

LONDON: 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.

“I have come here on my own expenses on a one month visa. I will be staying at a hotel on my own expenses,” Zulqarnain told a private news channel after spending nearly four hours with immigration authorities at Heathrow Airport.

“I will speak in detail on the reasons for my decision to leave Dubai and come to London later on,” he said without elaborating any further.

Earlier, Pakistan's team management said the keeper was last seen at the team's hotel in Dubai early in the morning.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Zulqarnain had not informed them he was planning to leave the hotel nor had he told them the reason for his sudden decision.

“A full inquiry will be held into the circumstances surrounding this incident and no further comment will be made until the facts are known,” the PCB said in a statement.

In a message on his Facebook account, Zulqarnain appeared to suggest he was worried about his personal safety after receiving threats.

“Leaving Pakistan cricket because get bad messages for lose the match in last game,” he wrote.

Pakistan officials reported Zulqarnain's disappearance to the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security unit, as well as local police.

The 24-year-old scored an unbeaten 19 and hit the winning runs as Pakistan levelled the five-match series 2-2 in the fourth one-dayer on Friday.

THREATENING MESSAGES
His brother Raza 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 Raza 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?”, Raza 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.

Zulqarnain has played one test, four one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games for Pakistan.

 
 •  South Africa beats Pakistan to win ODI series
DUBAI: Jacques Kallis scored a half-century and took three wickets to inspire South Africa to a 57-run win over Pakistan and a 3-2 victory in the one-day series.

South Africa reached 317-5 for its highest total in the series after winning the toss and choosing to bat. Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy also chipped in with half-centuries.

Pakistan began the run chase strongly, with Mohammad Hafeez and Shahzaib Hasan teaming up for an 82-run partnership for the first wicket.

But after that, the top order collapsed with Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Fawad Alam scoring a measly seven runs between them. Umar Akmal and Abdul Razzaq gave Pakistan some late hope with 60 for the seventh wicket but it wasn't enough. -AP

 
 •  Younis wants to bow out on World Cup high

DUBAI: Veteran batsman Younis Khan on Sunday expressed his hope that his team would win next year's World Cup, saying Pakistan is one of the four favourites to win the event which will be hosted in the sub-continent.

 

“It's in my mind that before I leave we win a major ICC (International Cricket Council) event and if that's the World Cup (50 overs) then it would be great,” said Younis of the event held every four years.

 

India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh host the World Cup from February 19 to April 2 next year and Younis rates Pakistan as one of the favourites.

 

“Pakistan is amongst the top four favourites to win the World Cup and I always give top ranking to my team. If we play to our potential we can win the World Cup like we won the World Twenty20,” he said.

 

Younis, 32, led Pakistan to a memorable World Twenty20 triumph in England in June last year, but five months later he had to relinquish the captaincy after falling out with some senior players.

 

He also withdrew from the team which toured New Zealand and after missing the Test series in Australia returned to the one-day squad in January this year.


Pakistan lost all three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 on the Australia tour, also marred by disciplinary problems, resulting in bans and fines on seven players, including Younis.

 

Although Younis's indefinite ban was lifted in June his legal tussle with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) kept him away from the team for eight months - even so it was a period Younis insisted he remained focussed on the game.

 

“To be out of the team was tough but I never lost my focus and kept my fitness because I knew that that was not my end, my end will come in a better way, like I want to do well before leaving the game,” said Younis.

 

Younis, who hit a match-winning 73 in the fourth one day match which saw Pakistan to a narrow one wicket win here on Friday to level the five-match series against South Africa at 2-2, said he fulfils the senior batsman's job.

 

“I am one of the most senior players, so my job is to guide the team to safety and whenever I do that I am very happy and it adds to my confidence,”said Younis, who has so far played 63 Tests and 206 one-day matches for Pakistan.

 

“If senior players remain focussed and do their jobs then I am sure that Pakistan will make winning a habit and that's very important at international level,” said Younis.

 

Younis hoped Pakistan clinch the final match against South Africa, to be played here on Monday.

 

“We have not won a series for two years,” said Younis of Pakistan's last series win against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in 2008. “So it's important that we clinch this series and get more confidence before the World Cup.”

 

Pakistan also play two Tests against South Africa - one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. – AFP

 
 •  PCB stops Kaneria joining test squad in Dubai

KARACHI: Pakistan leg spinner Danish Kaneria has been refused clearance from the country's cricket board to join the squad in Dubai for the test series against South Africa.

“He has not been cleared and we have nothing more to say,” Zakir Khan, Pakistan's director of international operations, told reporters.

Kaneria was due to leave with a batch of four other players on Sunday to join the squad for the two tests starting from Nov. 12.

“I don't know what has happened,” Kaneria told reporters. “I just got a call from a board official saying I shouldn't go to the airport.”

Kaneria, who has taken 261 wickets in 61 tests, was cleared in September of betting during an English county match last season.

Pakistan cricket was hit by spot-fixing allegations during their tour of England this year. Three players - test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - were provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council.

Scotland Yard and the ICC anti-corruption unit are investigating the case. – Reuters

 
 •  PCB sends legal notice to Mickey Arthur

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday warned former South Africa coach Mickey Arthur not to repeat his controversial allegations of match fixing against the Pakistan cricket team in his upcoming biography.

The PCB sent a three-page legal notice to Arthur through its lawyer Tafazzul Rizvi warning Arthur against publishing the claims.

"Give your written undertaking that your biography (Taking the Mickey) will not contain such or similar libels and disparaging statements against Pakistan team or any of its members," said the legal notice, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.

Arthur was also asked to give a proposal for the payment of a "substantial sum in damages to compensate them (PCB) for the harm and distress."

Last month, Arthur told South African website News24 that his team suspected match fixing when Pakistan collapsed dramatically to lose the fifth and decisive ODI to South Africa in Lahore three years ago.

The PCB has given Arthur one week to respond to the legal notice.

Arthur told News24 that "the South African cricket team had a strong suspicion that that there was match fixing involved in a decisive one-day international against Pakistan three years ago and it took some of the gloss off the series win."

However, the PCB in its legal notice claimed the statements were made by Arthur to "sell" his biography.

Arthur conceded he had no proof of match fixing, ''but when you have been involved in the game long enough, you know when something is not right.''

Pakistan looked set to beat South Africa in 2007, and also clinch the series, but slipped from a strong positions at 149-2 and 209-6 to 219 all out in pursuit of a 234-run target.

"....allegations leveled by you (Arthur) are whimsical, frivolous, defamatory, disparaging, denigrating, libelous, slanderous and derogatory," the notice said.

The PCB has also asked Arthur to unconditionally and publicly retract his defamatory statement.

Three Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are currently suspended by the International Cricket Council over spot-fixing allegations.

The ICC's code of conduct commission has already rejected appeals from Butt and Amir, while Asif did not appeal against the suspension.

The suspended players are due to appear before the anti-corruption tribunal of the ICC on dates yet to be set.

On Sunday, the PCB prevented Danish Kaneria from traveling to United Arab Emirates despite the legspinner being cleared by Essex police in September of criminal charges over allegations that he was involved in spot fixing during a county match against Durham last year.

The ICC's Pakistan Task Team said Sunday it was impressed by the PCB's measures to ensure the integrity of its cricket after it developed a new anti-corruption code for the players, proposed a plan to regulate agents of players and enhance a countrywide anti-corruption education program.

"PCB has clearly recognized that it is imperative to protect the integrity of cricket and we are indeed impressed by the progress reported," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement.

"Their (PCB) willingness to play such an active role on the integrity issue is vital to the future of international cricket. They have shown a clear determination to tackle their challenges."

 
Updated: 4513938 minutes ago
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