Harbhajan likely to escape ban
Embroiled in a racial abuse row with Symonds, the Indian spinner will appear before a disciplinary hearing in Sydney on Sunday.Updated: Jan 05, 2008 22:45 IST
Embroiled in a race row with Australia's Andrew Symonds, Harbhajan Singh will appear before a disciplinary hearing in Sydney on Sunday amid indications that the controversial Indian off-spinner will escape a ban due to lack of evidence.
Both India and Australia are said to have listed five representatives who will attend the hearing for which the International Cricket Council (ICC) has roped in an eminent British lawyer Nigel Peters to advice Match Referee Mike Procter and the two teams on procedural matters.
The hearing was originally scheduled for Saturday but was postponed to Sunday on Indian team management's request to allow the players top focus on the ongoing second cricket Test.
If found guilty Harbhajan could be banned for two to four Tests and four to eight one-dayers. But the off-spinner has vehemently denied saying anything racial during the altercation.
During the hearing, Sachin Tendulkar, who was in the middle when the alleged racial spat broke out, is likely to testify in favour of the 27-year-old bowler.
Indians are also likely to be represented by skipper Anil Kumble, manager Chetan Chauhan and media manager M V Sridhar. The Australians, meanwhile, are expected to be represented by skipper Ricky Ponting accompanied by Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke.
As things stood this evening, Harbhajan was unlikely to face any action on the charge of "racist remarks."
Apparently, the two umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor have confirmed that they reported the matter on the insistence of Ponting but they themselves did not hear anything provocative.
It would mean one man's word against the other and for want of evidence; Harbhajan is unlikely to be slapped with a ban.
The charge was laid by Benson and Bucknor after Saturday's play following a complaint from Ponting.
The complaint was made by Ponting after the 116th over of India's first innings, prior to which Harbhajan is alleged to have directed a racist comment at Symonds.
The alleged offence falls under 3.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct which refers to players or team officials "using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethic origin".