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India confident ahead of appeal

India were last night hopeful Harbhajan Singh would have his racial slur downgraded as his defence team finalised plans for tomorrow’s appeal hearing in Adelaide.

Leading Indian lawyer V.R. Manohar has led Harbhajan’s appeal against a three-Test ban for labelling Andrew Symonds a “big monkey” in a drama-filled Sydney Test.

Harbajan congratulates Australian captain Ricky Ponting on his 100 yesterdayBut Manohar won’t be present at the hearing in front of New Zealand Justice John Hansen which could last for two days.

“Mr Manohar, who has been appointed by BCCI as Harbhajan Singh’s lawyer, will sit at the BCCI office in Mumbai when the appeal against his ban will be heard on January 29 and 30,” Board of Cricket Control of India secretary Niranjan Shah said.

“Mr Manohar will communicate to the concerned persons in Australia via a teleconference.”

According to the International Cricket Council, Hansen has the power to “increase, decrease, amend or otherwise substitute his own decision from that made at the previous hearing, and his decision is final and binding”.

Harbhajan had been free to play in this summer’s final two Tests once the BCCI appealed against match referee Mike Procter’s decision. India are also hopeful the charge will be totally dropped, especially as they withdrew their case against Australian spinner Brad Hogg earlier this month after alleging he had called skipper Anil Kumble and deputy Mahendra Singh Dhoni “bastards”.

While hopeful of a positive outcome, the tourists have begun discussing possible ramifications if the appeal is not successful.

This could result in the tour being abandoned ahead of next Friday’s Twenty20 international in Melbourne. While a decision to go home would result in a $2.3 million fine, the BCCI is the financial heavyweight of cricket.

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