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BCCI adopts tough stand again on Harbhajan issue

cricket Updated: Jan 28, 2008 21:09 IST

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The Cricket Board today reiterated its stand on the Harbhajan Singh ban issue and threatened to call of the remainder of the tour of Australia unless the alleged racial abuse charge against the Indian off spinner was withdrawn in the two-day appeals hearing starting on Tuesday.

"Our stand remains the same as was the case earlier. We want the racial slur (against Harbhajan Singh) to be lifted. Otherwise the BCCI will recall the team from Australia," said its Vice-President Lalit Modi today.

Earlier in the day, Harbhajan's counsel V R Manohar made it clear that the Indian camp would oppose any "fishy" evidence that might be used against the off spinner to scuttle his defence during the two-day hearing.

ICC-appointed commissioner John Hansen, while laying down the procedure for the hearing, said "additional evidence" like transcript available from the stump microphone, could be admissible in the hearing scheduled to begin tomorrow in Adelaide.

The Indians, however, are against the idea.

"Anything which is legal and for the purpose of doing justice, we ourselves will co-operate. But if something fishy is done in the guise of doing justice we will object," Manohar said.

Manohar was also confident that the present evidence was enough to save the troubled off-spinner.

"I am very optimistic about Harbhajan Singh's innocence. Whatever material is there at present is innocuous and is in favour of Harbhajan Singh," Manohar said.

Harbhajan was slapped with a three-match ban by Match Referee Mike Procter after the Sydney Test for allegedly racially abusing Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds whose point was supported by three members of his team.

If some fresh evidence emerges which weakens the case of Harbhajan and allows the racial charge against the off spinner to continue, the forthcoming triangular series is in clear jeopardy by Modi's statement today.

The Indians have concluded the first part of the tour today, comprising four Tests, and the second half commences with the one-off Twenty20 international against the hosts to be held at Melbourne on February 1.

The tri-series of 50-over ODIs is to commence on February 3, also at Melbourne, and is scheduled to continue till March 7. The ODI series is to feature India, Australia and Sri Lanka.