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Angry Indians suspend their tour

  • Story Highlights
  • India suspend their cricket tour of Australia after spinner Harbhajan is banned
  • They will await the outcome of an appeal against his three-game suspension
  • He was banned for an alleged racist remark to Andrew Symonds
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SYDNEY, Australia -- India have suspended their tour of Australia until their appeal against the three-match ban handed to spinner Harbhajan Singh is heard.

Harbhajan will miss the remaining two tests in the series if the ban is upheld.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has instructed the touring party to stay in Sydney rather than move on to Canberra for their next fixture.

Feelings have become acrimonious after Harbhajan was banned for allegedly making a racist remark during the second Test defeat in Sydney.

Harbhajan was found guilty by match referee Mike Procter of breaching the players' code of conduct.

It was claimed that the spinner had called Australian Andrew Symonds a "monkey" and Procter said he was satisfied that "he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds' race or ethnic origin."

Symonds is the only non-white player in the Australian line-up.

The BCCI issued a statement saying: "The Indian Board realizes the game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honor of the Indian team and for that matter every Indian.

"To vindicate its position, the board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player."

The Indian team manager Chetan Chauhan said: "I told the match referee this is wrong. There was no conclusive evidence from the Aussie side."

If the appeal is upheld Harbhajan will miss the remaining two Test matches in Australia and one other match.

He was batting with Sachin Tendulkar when the incident occurred. Australian captain Ricky Ponting complained to the match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor, who laid a charge under section 3.3 of the code of conduct.

This section covers the use of " language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, gender, color, descent or national or ethnic origin."

Quite apart from this incident, the Indians are also seething over a number of controversial umpiring decisions and what they perceived to be the unsporting attitude of the home team.

Australia won the game by 122 runs after part-time off-spinner Michael Clarke took three wickets in the penultimate over.

It was a thrilling end to an enthralling match but Indian captain Anil Kumble said afterwards:"Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game."

The Indians expressed their lack of confidence in umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor and requested that Bucknor be removed from the third Test in Perth, due to start on January 16.

Bucknor is scheduled to officiate with Pakistan's Asad Rauf and an ICC spokesman said: "Neither team has a right to object to an umpire's appointment.We have no plans to change."

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Australian media said the Indians were on the wrong end of at least five poor umpiring decisions during the match and Symonds admitted he should have been given out to a catch behind when he was on 30 in the first innings, before he went on to make an unbeaten 162 and be named man of the match.

The Indian press was forthright in its views.

"Umpires give Oz 2-0 lead," declared the Times of India, adding that if rules allowed, the man of the match award would have taken into account the performance of the umpires.

"If the rule were more fair, Benson would have won it in a close race against Bucknor.

" Aussie captain Ricky Ponting would surely concede to his mates that the two umpires did more than any of them to win this match for the home team," it said in a leading front page story.

The Hindustan Times detailed each of the umpiring decisions that gave Australia a record-equaling 16th consecutive test win under the headline "Fingers that killed India."

"Team India c Benson b Bucknor," was the view of the Indian Express.

"After some very poor umpiring by Bucknor and Benson saw India go down by 122 runs and 0-2 in the series, skipper Anil Kumble, sources said, gave Bucknor a zero in his captain's report -- just what Sourav Ganguly did in the last meeting at the SCG four years ago."

Ponting said he believed the match was played in an excellent spirit and Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland suggested Ponting and Kumble should get together to resolve matters.

Sutherland said he was confident India would continue with the tour.

"BCCI president Sharad Pawar made a commitment overnight (that the tour would continue) and that's good enough for me," Sutherland told reporters in Melbourne on Monday. E-mail to a friend

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