Sydney: Australian media described India's threat to quit their cricket tour if a racist abuse charge against Harbhajan Singh was not dropped as an "abomination".
Under the front-page headline "Cricket's day of shame", The Sydney Morning Herald said Australian officials had angered their own players by caving in to India's demands that the charge be downgraded to use of obscene language.
Harbhajan was initially handed a three-Test ban by match referee Mike Procter for allegedly calling Australia's only black player, Andrew Symonds, a "monkey" during the acrimonious second Test in Sydney.
On Tuesday, Harbhajan pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of using abusive language and was fined 50 percent of his match fee by International Cricket council (ICC) appeals commissioner John Hansen.
The Herald said the decision amounted to a "straight sets victory" for India, which twice threatened to abandon the tour and also had umpire Steve Bucknor sacked from the series after complaining about some of his decisions.
Cricketing writer Peter Roebuck lashed the Indians' actions, saying chartering a plane to take the players home in the event of an adverse finding was "amongst the most nakedly aggressive actions taken in the history of a notoriously fractious game".
"If this is the way the Indian board intends to conduct its affairs hereafter, then God help cricket," he wrote.
"It's high time that the elders of the game in that proud country stopped playing to the gallery and considered the game's wider interests.
"Brinkmanship or not, threatening to take their bat and ball home in the event of a resented verdict being allowed to stand was an abomination. It set a dreadful precedent. What price justice now?"
The Australian, under the front-page headline "Cricket caves in to India's demands", said India had "again held a gun to the game's head and had its demands met".
Sydney's Daily Telegraph noted that India's reputation as the powerhouse of the game had secured the outcome of the appeals hearing held by New Zealand judge John Hansen.
"Had it been any other cricketing nation Australia would likely have stuck to their guns but again proved their subservience to the financial might of India," it said.
"CA (Cricket Australia) could not afford India to withdraw from the lucrative Commonwealth Bank one-day series which includes Sri Lanka."
The media reported that the Australian players were outraged at the developments but were convinced by Cricket Australia's lawyers to allow the charge to be downgraded and the tour to go ahead.
India's four-Test series of Australia, which the tourists lost 2-1 and which followed a bitter tour of the sub-continent last year, had been clouded by allegations of unsportsman-like behaviour.
Tensions came to a head in the close-fought Sydney Test, at which Harbhajan was accused of racially taunting Symonds.
India denied the charge but Indian captain Anil Kumble fuelled further controversy after his team lost the match by complaining that "only one team was playing with the spirit of the game".
The tour was put on hold until referee Bucknor was replaced but the Indians again threatened to pull out of the one-day triangular series if the charge against Harbhajan was not overturned.