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‘How do you stop them?: Harbhajan Singh opens up about facing racism in Australia

Harbhajan Singh, the former India off-spinner, has revealed that he was racially abused by the Australian crowd on his previous tours Down Under after a similar incident unfurled at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

On the fourth day of the third Test between India and Australia, play was halted for a few minutes after pacer Mohammed Siraj complained of abuse from a section of the crowd, leading to expulsion of some spectators and an unreserved apology from the host board.

Earlier on Saturday, a spectator allegedly directed racial abuse at Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj.

Harbhajan, who was a part of the infamous Monkeygate episode, tweeted about the issue on Sunday. “I personally have heard many things on the field while playing in Australia about Me My religion My colour and much more,” he wrote.

“This isn’t the first time the crowd is doing this nonsense. How do u stop them??”

Back in 2008, the racism row of “Monkeygate” had rocked an India-Australia series in Sydney. Andrew Symonds had accused Harbhajan of racially abusing him and calling him a monkey. After a courtroom battle, Harbhajan was handed a three-Test ban but he was eventually cleared of the charge and the ban was overturned.

Ravichandran Ashwin reiterated that this was not the first time the Indian players have faced racism in Sydney. Ashwin added, “In 2011, I didn’t know what racism is and how you are made to feel small. And people also join the laugh.”

Meanwhile, the ICC condemned racism in the Sydney Test.

“The International Cricket Council (ICC) has strongly condemned reported incidents of racism during the ongoing third Test match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground and have offered Cricket Australia all necessary support in investigating the incidents,” the apex body said in a statement.

ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney reiterated the ICC’s zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination of any kind.

“There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable. We will provide Cricket Australia and the relevant authorities with our full support in any ensuing investigation as we will not tolerate any racism in our sport,” he wrote.

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