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The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Monday decided to appeal against the three-Test ban handed out to ace spinner Harbhajan Singh saying that the honour of the team was "paramount".

In a strong statement, the Board said: "The Indian Board realises the game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honour of the Indian team and for that matter every Indian. To vindicate its position, the Board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player."

After a meeting of its top office bearers to take stock of the situation, the BCCI said it will also request ICC in its appeal to suspend the order of three Test ban against Harbhajan.

The BCCI added in the statement that the incident involving Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds and the subsequent hearing and conclusions were "to say the least, distressing".

"The Indian Board does not accept the findings of the match referee and has decided to challenge the unfair decision to suspend Harbhajan Singh as it deems it patently unfair. The Board will appeal to the International Cricket Council to review the decision of the Match Referee and suspend its operation till the appeal is disposed of," BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said through the statement.

"The Board also questions the very conduct of the hearing as the Match Referee before reaching his decision disregarded the essential point of any inquiry, that it should be based on facts, rational, detached and objective. The Board, in particular, is unhappy with the charge of racial slur against India's of-spinner Harbhajan Singh," it added.

The 'Turbanator' was handed a three-Test ban after a five-hour hearing on Sunday after he was found guilty of racial abuse during the stormy second Test in Sydney.

The charge was laid by match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor after Australia captain Ricky Ponting had accused Harbhajan of calling Symonds a 'monkey'.

"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds’ race or ethnic origin," ICC match referee Mike Procter said before announcing his verdict.
 
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