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    Harbhajan banned for three Tests; BCCI to appeal
    06 January , 2008. Sydney: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was tonight banned for three Test matches after the ICC Match Referee Mike Procter upheld the Australian charge that he had racially abused their all-rounder Andrew Symonds, a decision against which the Indian team will appeal within 24 hours.
    Procter gave a marathon six-and-a-half hour hearing to Harbhajan, who denied the charge and was supported by skipper Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, manager Chetan Chauhan and media manager M V Sridhar during the deliberations. 

    Procter also heard Symonds, who was backed by Australian captain Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke along with team manager Steve Bernard, who attended the hearing to testify against the Indian spinner. 

    After the hearing, which went beyond 2 am (Sydney time), there was no official word about the verdict but informed sources said that the three-Test ban was being slapped on Harbhajan, who is fully backed by the BCCI and the team.

    The appeal will be made to the Commissioner of Appeals and pending the appeal, the off-spinner can continue to play. 

    After the hearing, Sridhar had said that they had not ruled out returning home, but the BCCI later played down the threat.

    Meanwhile, the Indians have also filed a complaint against Australian spinner Brad Hogg for using abusive language during the ill-tempered second cricket Test. 
    The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will lodge a protest with the International Cricket Council (ICC) against erring umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor, who stood in the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), said team manager Chetan Chauhan here Sunday. The controversial decisions, from both umpires, cost India the Test match, which they lost by 122 runs.

    India captain Anil Kumble accused Australia of unsportsmanlike conduct after the top-ranked team tied its record of 16 straight Test cricket victories with a 122-run win in Sydney. 

    Michael Clarke, who claimed a low catch that helped trigger India's batting collapse, took three wickets in the penultimate over of the five-day Test yesterday to win a match that had been marred by contentious umpiring decisions. 

    ``Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game, that's all I can say,'' Kumble said at his post-match news conference at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

    Kumble indicated to reporters that he was upset at the refusal of Australia's batsmen to walk when they were clearly out, and by its fielders claiming some catches that should not have been appealed. 

    Kumble and rival captain Ricky Ponting agreed before the series that they would accept the word of the fielder in catches that were taken close to the ground. Clarke's catch to dismiss Sourav Ganguly was millimeters above ground level, making it difficult to judge even with the aid of television replays. 

    Ponting, whose team took a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series, said the match had been contested fairly by both teams. 

    ``I have absolutely no doubt about this match being played in the right spirit,'' Ponting said. 

    After being set 333 to win from 72 overs yesterday, India collapsed to be 210 all out. 

    Formal Complaint Rahul Dravid's innings was ended on 38 by an incorrect decision by West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor. He gave him out caught behind amid mass appealing from the Australians even though television replays showed the ball missing Dravid's bat. 

    ``I've played my cricket very sincerely and honestly, that's the approach my team takes and we expect that from Australia as well,'' Kumble said. ``Sometimes it happens that in the heat of the moment you take those chances and then probably don't say anything on that.'' 

    Dravid's dismissal was one of several decisions to go against the Indians, the first being on day one when man of the match Andrew Symonds was given not out by Bucknor. Symonds, who was on 30 at the time, went on to make an unbeaten 162 and later told reporters that he should have been given out, caught behind. 

    The Board of Control for Cricket in India will lodge a formal complaint about the umpires with the International Cricket Council, which appoints the match officials. 

    ``The umpiring was flawed, the team is agitated and upset,'' Indian team manager Chetan Chauhan told reporters. ``They are lodging a strong protest with the ICC so that some of the incompetent umpires will not umpire in the rest of the series.''

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