Harbhajan faces long ban for slapping Sreesanth(Roundup, Changing Dateline)

April 26th, 2008 - 10:16 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

Mohali/Mumbai, April 26 (IANS) Controversial off-spinner Harbhajan Singh faces a ban for five one-dayers after his alleged slap on Sreesanth kicked up a row. The Indian Premier League (IPL) ordered a probe Saturday while the Indian cricket board served a show cause notice on the spinner. Harbhajan, leading the Mumbai Indians side in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, raised a storm after allegedly slapping Kings XI pacer Sreesanth Friday night moments after his team Mumbai Indians slumped to their third defeat in a row.

Harbhajan and Sreesanth displayed brotherly love after the bitter spat saying they have patched up, but the Kings XI Punjab management lodged a complaint against Harbhajan.

“Harbhajan is like an elder brother to me. He came and spoke to me and there are no issues. I play my game with a lot of passion. Whatever happened was between us. He apologised to me and it was sorted out,” Sreesanth said.

Asked to elaborate on what exactly happened, Sreesanth said: “It was just a shake hand in the wrong place.”

Kings XI Punjab termed Harbhajan’s behaviour as “unacceptable and against the spirit of the game”.

“The complaint is in relation to Friday’s incident following the match against Mumbai Indians where Harbhajan made an unprovoked attack on Sreesanth. The Kings XI Punjab team and management consider this behaviour unacceptable and against the spirit of the game,” the statement added.

IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter after receiving the complaint.

“I have officially received a complaint from the Kings XI team management about the alleged incident at Mohali,” Modi said in a statement.

“The complaint has been forwarded to the match referee Farokh Engineer for a detailed inquiry as per the ICC Code of Conduct and the ICC disciplinary procedures for team players and officials, which will be applied with immediate effect in this case,” he added.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was the first to react after news channels aired picture of Sreesanth weeping on the field after the incident.

BCCI talked tough condemning such behaviour from its contracted players and asked Harbhajan to file an explanation by Monday evening.

“The BCCI has taken serious note of the incident between Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth at Mohali yesterday after the IPL Match,” BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said.

“The BCCI condemns the behaviour of Harbhajan Singh as a contracted player of the board and he is called upon to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. He has been asked for clarification by Monday evening (April 28),” the board’s statement added.

BCCI chief administrative officer (CAO) Ratnakar Shetty termed the incident as unfortunate.

“Physical attack in any form is not acceptable on the field and if the match referee complains, action will be taken against Harbhajan. There is a process in place and action will be taken as per the code applicable,” he said.

Harbhajan, on his part denied slaping Sreesanth.

“I didn’t slap Sreesanth. The media is blowing the issue out of proportion.”

“Everything has been sorted out between us. He is like a younger brother to me and I have spoken to him after the match was over last night,” Harbhajan said.

Kings XI Punjab skipper Yuvraj Singh however termed the incident as “ugly”.

“It was very unfortunate. It should not have happened. Harbhajan later came into the dressing room and I believe he has apologised to Sreesanth,” Yuvraj said Friday.

The 27-year-old off-spinner faced a three Test ban in India’s recent tour to Australia after he was engaged in a spat with Andrew Symonds. The ban was later lifted and Harbhajan was let off with a fine after Indian team management protested against the decision of Match Referee Mike Procter.

If proved guilty, Harbhajan could face ban up to five one-dayers under ICC guidelines.

The ICC Code of Conduct as adopted by the IPL and the Match Referee is the authority to investigate such allegations.

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