Melbourne, Nov.8 : Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has said that he was approached by a senior member of the India touring party during the acrimonious Sydney Test and asked to drop Australia's 'racist' complaint against off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
Harbhajan was alleged to have called all-rounder Andrew Symonds a "monkey" during the game and Ponting said that even before Harbhajan's three-Test ban was handed down, it was clear the matter would not be dealt in a straightforward manner.
Ponting's recollections are revealed in his Captain's Diary 2008, an extract of which has been published in the Weekend Australian.
"On the night after we made our on-field report about Harbhajan, I had a phone conversation with a senior member of the Indian touring party, who asked me straight to drop the complaint," Ponting wrote.
"Why do we need to keep it quiet?" I asked. His reply had nothing to do with Harbhajan's guilt or innocence; this fellow was more concerned with how events were going to transpire and tried to convince me it might not be worth the stress of going ahead with what might well be a prolonged legal process."
The conversation happened after play on day four, the evening before Harbhajan was suspended in a late-night hearing with the match referee Mike Procter.
As it turned out, the ban was overturned, but only after a bitter period during which India considered whether to go ahead with the rest of the tour.
Ponting said there was no chance he was going to back down and withdraw Australia's complaint.
"I was determined to see that justice would be done but I knew from the moment I put my mobile back in my pocket that the investigation might not be as straightforward as the authorities hearing the evidence, making the right decision and then we all move on," he wrote.
"It would not look good for Indian cricket for one of their senior players to be convicted of racial abuse, and from the time their officials realised we were not going to give ground - which was probably the moment this brief conversation ended - they set out to make sure that did not happen," Cricinfo quotes him, as saying.