NEW DELHI:Upset over the ban imposed on Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar on Monday sent an sms to BCCI chief Sharad Pawar assuring him that the off-spinner was innocent and suggesting that India should play the third Test only if the punishment is revoked.
"Harbhajan is innocent and I can assure you on this. In this hour of crisis, the Board should stand by him. I suggest we should play in Perth only if the ban is lifted," Tendulkar reportedly told Pawar through the text message.
Sachin was among the five Indians, who attended the ICC Match Referee Mike Procter's hearing into the allegation of racial abuse made by Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
Pawar, meanwhile, said he spoke to Indian skipper Anil Kumble and team manager Chetan Chauhan also before the appeal against Procter's verdict was prepared and the BCCI was expecting a response from the ICC by on Tuesday.
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"I have seen the draft and it was approved by Arun Jaitely and other colleagues. I spoke to skipper Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and manager Chetan Chauhan, understood the situation and took their views and assessment.
"We have demanded the suspension of the ban. We are expecting (a response) from the ICC by tomorrow. We also have a Working Committee meeting, so will take the final decision on Tuesday," Pawar told reporters in New Delhi.
Pawar, who spoke to captain Anil Kumble and team manager Chetan Chauhan, said he has instructed the team not to leave Sydney until further directions. "We expect some decision by
Tuesday," he told reporters.
Describing the ban on Harbhajan as "unfair and unacceptable", the BCCI made it clear that it will fight the "false slur" cast on the ace spinner. It said India's national commitment was against racism and was committed to protecting the country's fair name.
There were also reports that Sachin Tendulkar, who had given evidence for Harbhajan in the hearing yesterday, is said to have sent a sms to Pawar, saying the bowler was innocent and he was sure about it.
He is believed to have said that the Board should back the team in this hour of crisis and suggested that they should not play in Canberra if the ban is not lifted.
The baggage of the team members which was loaded into the bus was taken out and back to their hotel rooms after the BCCI asked the team not to go to Canberra.
The BCCI also filed another complaint with the ICC against umpire Steve Bucknor, who had given a number of decisions against the Indian team, that he should not be allowed to officiate in the next Test in Perth.
The ICC confirmed that it had received both the appeals against Harbhajan punishment and against umpire Bucknor.
Earlier, it had maintained that as of now that Bucknor would do duty in Perth.