Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
A decision in Saleem Malik's legal fight to clear his name is imminent after the independent adjudicator in the pending case reserved his verdict on Tuesday. The case was heard by retired judge Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan, and the judgment is expected in 15 days.
The case centred on the content of the transcripts from a recording from 2000 that reportedly caught Malik talking about fixing matches and potentially corrupting games in exchange for money. The PCB believed the transcripts put Malik's integrity into question, while the cricketer challenged the credibility of the transcripts themselves.
Malik wished to clear his name and voluntarily approached the PCB integrity commission in 2010, but failed to respond to the PCB's questions. He approached the PCB yet again this year to obtain permission to be reintegrated into the PCB setup, prompting the cricket board to re-examine his case. Once more, the PCB called upon Malik to clarify his position with regards to the sting operation conducted by the now-defunct British tabloid News of the World, in which he was allegedly caught on tape talking about fixing matches for money.
He has formally replied to the PCB but the board's anti-corruption department found his response "unsatisfactory and irrelevant". The PCB accused the former captain of "denial and avoidance" with respect to the transcripts, and referred to an apology he had made in 2014 in which he appeared to "accept my wrongdoing" and "apologise to the fans and start my rehabilitation process".
But in the hearing before the adjudicator, Malik's lawyer argued that the transcript's authenticity wasn't independently verified. "Their case hinges on the basis of an ICC document, but we have found out that the ICC letter clearly says these transcripts aren't verified," Malik's lawyer said after the final arguments before the judge. "The basis on which Malik was made a scapegoat for years is not even authentic. And if the transcripts are not authentic, then the PCB has no case."
The PCB's lawyer, however, said the board would continue to take the content of the transcript seriously. "No one can play games with the PCB's vigilance department," PCB's legal attorney Tafazzul Rizvi told ESPNcricinfo. "Any player or support personal who wants to be associated with cricket at any level is required to answer any query of the PCB's vigilance department about their integrity or conduct."
Malik's career as a player was sullied by the match-fixing scandals. In a judicial inquiry - that began in 1998 and continued for 13 months - he was found guilty of bribing Australian cricketers Shane Warne and Mark Waugh to lose the 1994-95 Karachi Test. Malik was fined and banned for life in 2000, but eight years later his sentence was overturned by a Lahore sessions court, allowing him theoretically to return to the fold.