ICC postpones Harbhajan hearing by a day

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Sydney, Jan 5 (UNI) Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's disciplinary hearing was put back by a day to give Indian team management more time to prepare after he was charged racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the second Test in Sydney.

International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Mike Procter, said the hearing had been postponed until the conclusion of the match, which is scheduled to finish tomorrow.

''At the request of the India team manager and under the circumstances I have exercised my discretionary powers to postpone the code of conduct hearing until the conclusion of this test match,'' Proctor said.

''I am satisfied that with a further 24 hours India will have time to sufficiently prepare for this hearing.'' If found guilty, Harbhajan faces a ban of between two and four test matches or between four and eight one-day internationals.

Harbhajan Singh was charged yesterday under Level 3 of the International Cricket Council's Code of Conduct following an alleged incident that took place during the second Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The charge was laid by match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor after the close of play on day three of the match following a complaint they received from the Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

The complaint was made by Ponting after the 116th over of India's first innings, prior to which Harbhajan is alleged to have made a comment directed at an Australia player.

Harbhajan and Symonds exchanged words shortly after the Indian had reached his half century. Play was delayed for several minutes while the umpires spoke to Harbhajan on the pitch.

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''.

Harbhajan has denied he made any racial slur on Symonds and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has reportedly called on its lawyers to defend him.

''I did not say anything racist. I do not know what is going on,'' Harbhajan said.

''I haven't done anything, we were just talking. It wasn't even sledging, it was just normal talk out on the cricket field. I was concentrating on my batting.'' Symonds was subjected to racial abuse, during his Australia's tour of India in October, when spectators taunted him with 'monkey' chants.

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