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Bhajji ban: Indian board fully backs team


Sydney/New Delhi : The Indian board decided to appeal against the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision late Sunday to ban off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for three Tests after he was found guilty of racial abuse against Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the second Test in Sydney.

The Indian board decided to fully back the team management, which was to meet later Sunday night to take a decision on the next course of action.

Board president Sharad Pawar will take up the matter with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and will talk to other directors on the executive board and appeal against the drastic decision.

The Indian board appeared open to even considering calling off the tour if the team management felt the players were in no mental state to go ahead with it.

Senior board officials were in touch with the ICC officials as well as the Australian board.

The Indian board and the team management were particularly angry with the way the hearing was held and the way the decision was arrived at on the evidence of two Australian players, Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke, ignoring substantiation on the issue by Sachin Tendulkar, the man closest to the action.

The India team’s media manager M.V. Sridhar said the team was extremely disappointed with the unilateral decision taken against Harbhajan since there was no evidence against him.

Earlier, Mike Proctor, the match referee for the Second Test in Sydney that India lost by 122 runs Sunday, took the decision after an eight-hour hearing that went into the wee hours of Monday (local time).

Harbhajan had been charged under Level 3 of the ICC Code of Conduct. The charge was laid by match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor following a complaint they received from Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.

Australian media reports suggested the Indian spinner broke an understanding between him and Symonds that he (Harbhajan) would not use any racial slur against the Australian when a similar fracas took place in the Mumbai One-Dayer between the two teams in October.