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Coverage: India's tour of Australia
Australian captain Ricky Ponting [Images] has suggested that India's move to boycott the rest of the series, pending resolution of its appeal against the ban on Harbhajan Singh [Images], could be "a little bit extreme".
Singh had been suspended Sunday by the International Cricket Council for three Tests, after being found guilty of racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds [Images] during the just concluded second Test in Sydney.
The Indian team, due to travel to Canberra today to prepare for a practice match ahead of the third Test of the series, returned to their hotel rooms following word from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. .
Ponting told Nine Network's 'A Current Affair' program that "They're (the BCCI) entitled to do whatever they think is appropriate at the time, but to me that would be a little bit extreme.
"From what I, and the rest of the Australian players can take from the first two tests is a lot of fun and a lot of enjoyment.
"You'd like to think that one little incident like this wouldn't bring undone all the great work that's been done over a long period of time."
Ponting said he was disappointed to hear Anil Kumble [Images] suggest that only one side had played in the true spirit of the game, and said his side had not contravened that spirit in any way.
"There's one incident that's come out of the first two Tests, and it didn't involve an Australian," Ponting said, referring to the Harbhajan furor.
"In this test match there was one of mine (where) I wasn't sure if I caught Rahul Dravid [Images] in the first innings. I was 95 per cent sure (I'd caught it). There was a little bit of doubt there for me. I said I wasn't 100 per cent sure, so Dravid stayed."
He said he had reported the incident to the umpires because as the captain of the side, he saw it as his duty to complain when an individual overstepped the mark.
He, however, told the channel that he believed the situation could be resolved before the third Test begins in Perth in 10 days time.
"I've got no doubt that we can: the game is bigger than both me and Anil, and both Australia and India cricket teams", Ponting is quoted in the interview as saying.
Malcolm Conn, in The Age, meanwhile writes that Harbhajan Singh had used the `monkey' insult against Symonds before, and that this was by no means a first offense.
During the last one-day match in Mumbai, on the field Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey, Conn reports. Symonds reported the incident to Australia's officials following the match, went to the Indian dressing room and asked to speak to the bowler.
Symonds, says Conn, explained how he felt about the use of that word; Harbhajan said he was sorry and agreed not to use it again.
This, says Conn, explains why the Australians in general and Ponting in particular were so incensed when Harbhajan again clashed with Symonds on the field on Friday.
"There is zero chance that Harbhajan did not know what he was saying was derogatory given the history of the incident," one former player is quoted as saying.
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