Harbhajan temporarily suspended from IPL for slapping Sreesanth (Intro Roundup)

April 27th, 2008 - 12:07 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

New Delhi/Mohali, April 26 (IANS) Mumbai Indians stand-in captain Harbhajan Singh was Saturday temporarily suspended from playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for allegedly slapping Kings XI Punjab paceman Sreesanth. The decision was taken by IPL commissioner and chairman Lalit Modi, a vice-president of the Indian cricket board, Saturday night based on prima facie video evidence as seen and reviewed by match referee Farokh Engineer from the tapes provided by host broadcaster Sony and TWI.

“A decision has been reached to suspend with immediate effect Harbhajan pending the inquiry into the incident on Monday. A final verdict would be announced by adjudicator Engineer post the hearing at New Delhi,” said Modi.

Harbhajan faces a ban for five one-dayers.

The off-spinner, leading the Mumbai Indians in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, raised a storm after he allegedly slapped Sreesanth Friday night, moments after Mumbai Indians slumped to their third defeat in a row.

IPL has adopted the International Cricket Council (ICC) Code of Conduct and the match referee is the authority to investigate such incidents.

Both Harbhajan and Sreesanth tried to downplay the incident and displayed brotherly love after the bitter spat saying they had patched up, but the Kings XI Punjab management lodged a complaint against the stand-in skipper.

“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.”

But 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.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was the first to react after news channels aired images 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 a serious note of the incident between Harbhajan and Sreesanth at Mohali yesterday after the IPL match,” board secretary Niranjan Shah said.

“The BCCI condemns the behaviour of Harbhajan 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,” 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 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 during 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 the Indian team management protested against the decision of match referee Mike Procter.

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