A verbal spat courted controversy

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/harbhajancontroversy_afp.jpg' class='caption'> Harbhajan Singh has been charged with ban in three Tests following his on-field altercation with Andrew Symonds on day three of the second Test in Sydney.

Updated: January 09, 2008 15:09 IST
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New Delhi:

As Harbhajan Singh has been slapped with a ban of three Test matches following his on-field altercation with Andrew Symonds during the second Test in Sydney, cricket fans are still getting dizzy facts about exactly what happened between the two players.

It all started when Symonds and Harbhajan had a verbal dual during the infamous Sydney Test.

Television footage showed Harbhajan calling Symonds and then the two of them had some conversation. During that talk, Symonds continued to walk and speak, while Harbhajan, with his back on the camera, was behind.

Soon, Matthew Hayden and Sachin Tendulkar, the batsman on the other end, came in.

Then, the two umpires came and talked to Harbhajan. Mark Benson kept his mouth covered, perhaps not to reveal his lip movements to the camera.

Harbhajan has completely denied that his remarks were racist. Talking to The Age, he 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."

"I did not say anything racist. I do not know what is going on. I am here to play well for my country, to bowl well and to win this Test match.

"This is an important game for us and we have a chance to win - that's what I'm focused on."

However, Symonds has described the whole event in the following way. "This is what happened before our confrontation," he told The Herald Sun.

"Brett Lee had just sent down a delivery and Harbhajan took off down the wicket. When he was returning to his crease, he decided to hit Brett on the backside. I have no idea why he did it.

"I was standing nearby and when I saw what happened, I thought, 'Hold on, that's not on'. I'm a firm believer in sticking up for your team-mate so I stepped in and had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics. He then had a shot back, which brings us to the situation we're facing."

The racism charge was slapped on Singh by the umpires after a complaint by Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

Harbhajan was booked under a Level III offence under the ICC Code of Conduct.

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