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banner Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 20:54 GMT
Malik wants support
Malik with his family at home in Lahore. Photo by Mueenuddin Hameed
Malik with his family at home in Lahore
A BBC Sport Online special correspondent talks to disgraced former Pakistan captain Salim Malik.

No one gets to see Salim Malik at all these days, and not many even hear from him.

Malik has abstained from visiting public places, but is now seeking fans' support from around the world.

The last time anyone met him was on 23 January when the former Pakistan captain, now serving a life ban for match fixing, appeared before the Pakistan Cricket Board.

"I have been oppressed through no fault of mine and I seek support of fans from all over the world," Malik told BBC Sport Online.

"Pray for me so that I can remove the stigma on me."

You can't compare me with India's Mohammad Azharuddin and Hansie Cronje because they have confessed
  Salim Malik
The 37-year-old now lives a secluded life with his wife, three sons and daughter in his Lahore residence.

The housemaid turns down all calls for Malik - no matter what time it is.

Jamshed, a close friend of Malik's said: "Malik is suffering tremendous depression and doesn't tell anything even to his close friends - this is affecting his health.".

Malik, a jovial character throughout his playing days and a renowned joker in the team, has now been transformed into a tired and harassed-looking man who fails to conceal feelings through his half smiles.

Malik: A fluent strokeplayer at his peak.
Malik: A fluent strokeplayer at his peak
"The Pakistan Cricket Board has done me an injustice and have targeted me. Now they are using delaying tactics on my appeal against the ban in a court," Malik grumbled.

Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum's inquiry into match-fixing recommended that Malik be banned from all international and first class cricket, from holding any cricketing office and pay a fine of 1m rupees (11,774).

Before Pakistan cricket officials could make the report public and impose its recommendations, the News of the World broke the story to the public.

Malik believes the Pakistan cricket authorities wanted to dilute the report, but were left with no alternative other than to punish him.

Pakistan Cricket Board has done injustice with me and have targeted me
  Salim Malik
"They have punished me on the words of all those who have themselves confessed links with bookies, like Shane Warne and Mark Waugh," he claimed.

"You can't compare me with India's Mohammad Azharuddin and Hansie Cronje because they have confessed. I have never committed any such sins," he pleaded.

No matter what Malik says, all the reports are against him.

In addition to Warne and Waugh, his own colleagues Rashid Latif and Aamir Sohail accused him of wrongdoing, and another disgraced former captain Hansie Cronje and an Indian report also name him.

"There is an old tale in which some rabbits called a meeting to counter a gigantic elephant in a jungle who had crushed small animals under his feet.

"While they were deliberating in a tree, the elephant emerged from somewhere and shook the tree.

Malik with one of his four children. Photo by Mueenuddin Hameed
Malik with one of his four children
"One rabbit fell down. The fallen rabbit heard his colleagues saying, 'Kill him, crush him, he instigated us against you.'

"I am the same fallen rabbit and everyone now wants to crush me," Malik said.

Malik's lawyer Malik Shahid Hamid, a former Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, is convinced his client will get justice.

"My task is to overturn his life ban and I am doing my level best to do this.

"Recommendations can not be implemented like the Pakistan Cricket Board has done, this has spoiled my client's career," he said.

A career spanning 103 Tests and 283 one-dayers is evidence of his greatness, but the unceremonious title of being the first cricketer to be banned for life will haunt Malik for the rest of his days.

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