Harbhajan denies racism charge, Indian team furious

By our sports reporter

Sydney: Indian off spinner Harbhajan has denied any racist comment against Oz player Andrew Symonds. Harbhajan and Symonds had a verbal exchange on the Sydney Cricket Ground during on the third days play of the second Test between the two countries.

A report in the Hindustan Times (January 05, 2007, “Racism Dirt on Bhajji” By Kadambri Murali) says, “The Indian team is furious; they say the charges are utter rubbish, and will back Bhajji to the end.”

It further says: “And there is a strong feeling here that the Australians, suddenly finding themselves in what may turn out to be a tight corner, have thrown a low blow The Australians would in fact, appear to have enough reasons to target Harbhajan. He was a thorn in their side for nearly 30 overs after lunch. He smashed a feisty 63 that dashed India into an unlikely lead, allowed Sachin Tendulkar to reach century number 38, and took his side to a situation from where they can make a fight of this Test. And when Australia bat on a spinning track on Saturday, they would like Bhajji to be in an angry and disturbed mental frame.”

The Australians have made an official complaint and Harbhajan has been charged under Level 3.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct. Being a serious offence, Bhajji can be banned for two to four Tests or four to eight ODIs. Bhajji will be appearing before the match referee after close of play on the fourth day of the match.

Harbhajan told Hindustan Times he had absolutely no idea of what was going on. He denied having said anything remotely racist to Symonds. “I just want to concentrate on the game,” he said. Team sources said Harbhajan had beckoned Symonds to ask him what he was mouthing at him from a distance. “I understand that Symonds may have told him to f*** off and he may have said the same. It was nothing out of the ordinary,” said a player India’s team manager Chetan Chauhan said the fact that a “complaint had been made was disappointing”.

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