Canberra: On-field provocation was the reason behind off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's outburst against all-rounder Andrew Symonds, asserts Indian team manager Chetan Chauhan.
Contrary to the perception in the local media, that Indian off-spinner broke a pact with the burly batsman, reached during the last year's Future Cup, The Indian manager said it was the Australian who was responsible for igniting the controversy.
''In Mumbai they had a friendly pact, an oral pact,'' Chauhan said.
''I would say the first person to have broken that pact was the person who has complained. He has said it everywhere that it was Bhajji who started it. The cause started from there and then the effect came in.'' Although, Chauhan did not reveal the details of this pact, which, he said, had been made after the ODI in India in Oct 2007 during which Harbhajan allegedly called Symonds a 'monkey'.
Coming down heavily on the Aussie all-rounder, the former opening batsman suggested that Symonds was not totally innocent in the whole episode.
''He has admitted that he had said something to provoke Harbhajan. So there was a cause and an effect,'' he said.
Symonds had earlier said that it was Harbhajan's action, when he decided to ''hit Brett (Lee) on the backside'', that sparked off the confrontation.
''I have no idea why he did it,'' Symonds said. ''I was standing nearby and when I saw what happened, I thought, 'Hold on, that's not on'.
''I'm a firm believer in sticking up for your team-mate so I stepped in and had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics. He then had a shot back, which brings us to the situation we're facing,'' Chauhan told the Star Cricket channel during the first day of India's tour match in Canberra.
A complaint was lodged against Harbhajan under section 3.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct and the match referee Mike Procter banned him for three Tests at a hearing after the conclusion of the Sydney Test. India has since appealed against the judgment.
The Sydney Test also saw a number of umpiring blunders which played a major role in visitors' defeat.
Umpire Steve Bucknor has since been replaced for the Perth Test, but the Indian team manager said the visitors were not singling out any one official.
''Umpires can have a bad day but there's a limit,'' he said.