Sydney, Jan 5: Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh on Friday was charged with a Level III offence under the ICC Code of Conduct following his on-field altercation with Andrew Symonds during the third day of the second Test here.
The two players came face to face while Harbhajan was batting.
Under the code, Harbhajan has been summoned to a hearing with match referee Mike Procter for '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'.
The charge was made by umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor after the close of play following a complaint they received from Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
If found guilty Harbhajan could face a ban of two to four Tests or four to eight one-dayers. The hearing is scheduled after tomorrow's play.
Television replays showed Harbhajan beckoning Symonds and the two of them having an extended conversation before Matthew Hayden and Sachin Tendulkar, who was batting at the other end, intervened. The two umpires then spoke to Harbhajan.
India rejects Symonds' racial abuse allegation
Sydney: The Indian team management on Friday rejected Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds' allegations of racial abuse by Harbhajan Singh, asserting the off-spinner did not say anything offensive.
Although Harbhajan himself has not made any statement on the matter, Indian media manager M V Sridhar said the spinner has told the management that he did not taunt Symonds racially during their spat on the third day of the ongoing second cricket Test on Friday.
"According to Harbhajan he did not say anything which was offensive," he said.
Sridhar also rubbished suggestions that Symonds' complaint against Harbhajan would have any bearing on the relationship between the BCCI and Cricket Australia.
"The relationship between the BCCI and CA is excellent and this Test match has seen some very competitive cricket being played. We would not let allow a small incident to overshadow everything," he said.
The exact comments are not known but Sridhar confirmed that a 'hearing' against Harbhajan is scheduled for Saturday.
Umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor have laid the charge after consulting an agitated Ricky Ponting at the end of the day's play.
Harbhajan has been reported for International Cricket Council's Code of Conduct 3.3.
It states: '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 ethnic origin'.
Umpires heard no racial abuse, says referee
Sydney: Match umpires did not hear any alleged racial abuse of Australia's Andrew Symonds during the second cricket Test against India, match referee Mike Procter said on Saturday.
India spinner Harbhajan Singh faces a charge of racial abuse against Andrew Symonds after a complaint lodged by Australian skipper Ricky Ponting to match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor during Friday's third day.
Procter is to convene a hearing into the allegations after the end of the Sydney Test on Sunday.
Procter said neither of the on-field officials were aware of the heated exchange between Harbhajan and Symonds during Friday's final session.
"The umpires did not hear anything, they did not know anything about it," he told Channel Nine television.
Harbhajan has denied he racially abused Symonds.
"I did not say anything racist. I do not know what is going on," he told Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
"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."
In the wake of the allegations Indian great Sunil Gavaskar accused the Australian side of double standards following Ponting's complaint.
Gavaskar has been a fierce critic of the behaviour of Ponting's men in the past and felt the Australians could dish it out but not take it in return.
Tendulkar likely to testify for Harbhajan in hearing
Sydney: Sachin Tendulkar, who was in the middle when the alleged racial spat between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds broke out, is likely to testify in favour of the Indian off-spinner during the hearing scheduled with the ICC Match Referee here on Sunday.
Indians will be well-represented with skipper Anil Kumble, manager Chetan Chauhan and media manager M V Sridhar also likely to accompany Harbhajan.
The Australians, meanwhile, are likely to be represented by skipper Ricky Ponting accompanied by Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee among others.
As things stood this evening, Harbhajan Singh 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 and that 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 cop a fine or punishment.
However, it remains to be seen whether anything offensive was recorded by the stump microphone, which will now become an instrument in bringing out the truth.
Former Indian skippers Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar, meanwhile, used strong words against the racial abuse charge against Harbhajan in their reactions on television.
Gavaskar believed that Australian skipper Ricky Ponting should have never raked up the issue as Harbhajan's alleged remarks had not been heard by a third person.
"It's one man's word against the other and apparently can't be proved," commented Gavaskar, warning that it would open a pandora's box for the Australians.
"Teams from around the word could accuse Australia of something similar everytime they step on the to the field so such issues are best left un-pressed," Gavaskar said on television.
"Whatever remains on the field must remain on the field is an old Australian saying," said Gavaskar.
Shastri opined that the issue "had been blown out of proportions."
"These things happen on a cricket field. But you can't make everything into an issue," remarked Shastri.
Harbhajan race row: Ganguly says India not upset
Sydney: Australia's racial abuse complaint against Harbhajan Singh may have given a seemingly nasty turn to the ongoing Test series but Indian batsman Sourav Ganguly on Saturday rubbished suggestions that the issue has upset the visiting side.
"We walked out in the field normal. I don't think many of them were aware of what exactly had happened. So there was no such discussion within the team," Ganguly said after the fourth day's play in the second Test here.
Applauding Harbhajan Singh's competitive streak despite being under pressure, Ganguly said the off-spinner has shown his class by not letting the incident affect his on-field performance.
"He's a competitor, he's got a lot of quality in him, quality players will always produce their best under pressure," Ganguly said.
Harbhajan picked up just one wicket but it was the prized scalp of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting. His celebration took everyone by surprise, running towards the pavilion, hand held high and then doing a couple of somersaults in front of the members' stand.
"Good that he stayed on the ground. For a second I thought he was going inside the dressing room!" said Ganguly to the utter merriment of the assembled media.
"All men can't be the same. It's not right for me to say that's the way it should be. That's the way he is and that's the way we all are. We are different, we react differently to different situations. As human being we will have to accept it," Ganguly said.
Australian opener Matthew Hayden, who struck his 29th century during the day, echoed Ganguly's views on Harbhajan's celebrations.
Harbhajan makes a habit of taking Ponting's wicket
Sydney: Harbhajan Singh spiced up his feisty rivalry with Ricky Ponting, revelling in a first-ball dismissal of the Australian captain on the fourth day of the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Harbhajan, the subject of an end-of-Test hearing over racial abuse charges, claimed Ponting's wicket for the eighth time in Test cricket with the first ball that he bowled to the champion batsman.
Ponting's wicket for one sent a shudder through the Australian team but the world number one side recovered through a Matthew Hayden century and an unbeaten 87 from Mike Hussey to lead by 213 runs heading into Sunday's final day.
Harbhajan has a testy rivalry with Ponting going back to his vocal send-off to Ponting when the master Australian batsman was stumped off his bowling in Sharjah in 1998.
Ponting played forward to Harbhajan's delivery and spooned a catch to VVS Laxman at silly point to send Harbhajan on a manic victory dash culminating in a theatrical tumble in front of the Indian team's dressingroom.
Harbhajan faces a charge of racial abuse against Australian player Andrew Symonds and will appear before match referee Mike Procter after the Test on Sunday.
The citing follows an alleged incident during Friday's third day.
Ponting has struggled in this series with scores of four and three in Melbourne and 55 and one in Sydney, three times falling to Harbhajan.