Haider has not made contact with the PCB since abandoning his team in Dubai [AFP]

Zulqarnain Haider has been suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board for abandoning the team in the United Arab Emirates before a match and fleeing to London, to reportedly seek asylum from threats linked to match-fixers.

The 24-year-old wicketkeeper quit the Pakistan team in Dubai on Monday, claiming he feared for his safety after being ordered to cooperate with match-fixers and lose matches against South Africa.

"The contract of Zulqarnain Haider has been suspended for violating its terms and conditions," the PCB said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement also said that the PCB had so far failed in its efforts to contact the player. The International Cricket Council (ICC) said they had met the wicketkeeper and would help the PCB in a probe into his sudden exit.

"We have met with the player and we are engaged in following up with the PCB," ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat told a news conference in Dubai.

"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," Lorgat said earlier on the governing body's website.

"We understand his plight if reports are indeed true."

Swift departure

Zulqarnain, who hit the winning runs in the fourth one-day match on Friday, left the Pakistan team hotel shortly before the fifth game on Monday which was won by South Africa to clinch the series 3-2.

In interviews with Pakistan's GEO TV on Tuesday, Haider first claimed he was retiring from cricket and seeking asylum in Britain. He later said he was prepared to return to Pakistan if the government guaranteed his safety.

Speaking about his decision to leave, Haider said: "I was told to cooperate or I would face a lot 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'."

Zulqarnain Haider

"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'."

GEO reported Haider as saying he'd had his first hearing on an asylum request, and that a second one would happen next month. British authorities do not comment on specific asylum cases

Setback

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.

Lorgat denied the ICC was targeting Pakistan as part of its anti-corruption drive, saying "we are very sympathetic to the issues that Pakistan cricket is challenged by and are providing all the support we possibly can and will continue to do so.''

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.

Source: Agencies