Harbhajan hits out at Hayden crack

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The Independent Online

The India spinner Harbhajan Singh has stoked the controversy which engulfed him on the tour of Australia, describing the world's top-ranked team as "arrogant" and criticising some of their players.

"They (Australia) are an arrogant side," he told the Indian tabloid Mail Today. "They don't mingle with rival teams. We knew it from the start but we never expected them to give us so much crap on the field."

Harbhajan was embroiled in a racism row after being accused by Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds of calling him a monkey in the second test in Sydney.

He denied it and was later cleared of racial abuse by the governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), but found guilty of the lesser offence of using abusive language.

The opening batsman Matthew Hayden was later reprimanded by Cricket Australia for calling the India off-spinner an "obnoxious weed".

Harbhajan returned home with the rest of the India side to a hero's welcome on Thursday after beating world champions Australia 2-0 in the finals of the one-day tri-series.

He said it was tough to concentrate on the game after Sydney where the ICC appeals commissioner John Hansen downgraded the charge against him.

"It was of course very difficult to focus on cricket after that Sydney incident," the spinner said. "It was like Harbhajan versus Australia after that.

"But then to come back and play the [fourth and] last Test in Adelaide and to perform there was an experience that has made me a much stronger individual." India lost the Test series 2-1.

Harbhajan criticised Hayden and the wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist, who retired from international cricket at the end of the tri-series.

"There are times when he doesn't let an opportunity go to waste and says nasty things on the field." the 27-year-old said.

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