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October 21, 2006
Saleem Malik, the former Pakistan batsman, has said that India's plans to pardon Mohammad Azharuddin for his involvement in the match-fixing scandal has raised his hopes of overturning his own life ban for the same offence.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had said that they planned to resurrect Azharuddin by inviting him to a function in Mumbai on November 4 to honour him and other Indian captains for their services to the game - a move which has irked the ICC.
"I can't tell you how happy I was on learning that Azhar's ban will be lifted soon. It's a ray of hope for me that I should get a similar reprieve from Pakistan," Malik told AFP. "My pleas have fallen on deaf ears, nobody wants to listen to my requests. It has been just like six years of imprisonment for me."
Pakistan banned Malik for life in 2000 following a judicial inquiry into the match-fixing allegations that resulted from allegations by Australian players Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh. The ban ended his impressive 19-year career during which he scored 5,768 runs in 103 Tests and 7,170 in 283 ODIs. He also led Pakistan in 12 Tests and 34 one-day matches. He is still waiting for the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal against his ban.
Malik said he would put his case before Naseem Ashraf, the new PCB chairman and Saleem Altaf, the board's operations director. "I know the new chairman is an educated person and like the Indian board officials would listen to my request and take the same stance as India," he said.
Malik said his main goal was to clear his name and added that he had plans to form an academy for youngsters.
"If I am cleared I will never be interested in holding any post in Pakistan cricket," he said. "My only interest is to start an academy for kids and for that I have acquired land as well. But nobody has allowed me to start it."
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