Second slur made Ponting press for charges

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Sydney, Jan 10 (UNI) Indian skipper Anil Kumble's plea for not pressing racism charges against Harbhajan Singh was rejected by his Aussie counterpart Ricky Ponting because it was the second time the spinner had allegedly called Andrew Symonds ''a monkey''.

At the end of the third day's play at the SCG, Kumble phoned Ponting over the charge against Harbhajan.

However, the Australia captain had placed the report with umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor.

According to reports in 'The Australian', Ponting took a strong line after the Oz players wanted Harbhajan charged for racially abusing Symonds in October during a one-day tour of India.

It was only a decision by Symonds to privately seek out Harbhajan after the seventh match of the spiteful tournament which defused the situation.

When Harbhajan allegedly called Symonds a ''monkey'' again during the third day of the second Test, Ponting decided to report the incident because of the first outburst more than two months earlier.

In the meantime, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has made it clear that unless Harbhajan is cleared of racism charges, the future of the tour will hang in balance.

The BCCI is furious match referee Mike Procter has taken the word of Symonds and fellow Australians Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke, who heard the comments, over Harbhajan and his batting partner Sachin Tendulkar.

The all-rounder told Ponting at the completion of that one-day match in Mumbai that Harbhajan had called him a monkey, mirroring the crowd racial abuse Symonds had faced during the final three matches of the series.

Ponting called a meeting of all players and support staff to discuss charging Harbhajan.

The Australians had earlier been upset by constant denials from Indian officials earlier in the series that Symonds was being racially abused by the crowd.

It was only a photograph taken by an Australian cameraman of a section of the Mumbai crowd doing monkey chants which prompted local officials to act.

It was in the heated environment of this abuse and inaction that the Australians discussed charging Harbhajan in Mumbai.

However, Symonds went to the Indian dressing-room and explaining that the comment was hurtful and offensive.

Symonds returned to the Australian dressing-room and told his team-mates Harbhajan had apologised.

Harbhajan denied the latest racism accusation during last Sunday night's marathon disciplinary hearing at the SCG.

However, there is likely to be increasing tension among the Australians for Tendulkar denied the word monkey was used.


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