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Harbhajan banned from IPL
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | April 28, 2008 16:10 IST
Last Updated: April 28, 2008 17:44 IST
Ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh [Images] was banned from playing in the Indian Premier League after he pleaded guilty to slapping Indian teammate S Sreesanth [Images] at the end of the match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians in Mohali last week.
The temperamental bowler was also fined 100 per cent match fees from the third IPL match.
Lalchand Rajput, coach of his team, Mumbai Indians, was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for making no attempt to stop the physical attack on the Kings XI Punjab bowler.
Sreesanth was let-off with a warning that his "aggression on the field will in future be taken seriously".
"After looking into the video footage in the presence of Sreesanth, complainant Neil Maxwell (Kings XI Punjab CEO), Harbhajan and Lalchand Rajput, (Mumbai Indians coach), and managers of both sides, and considering the submissions from both sides and in view of Harbhajan's admission, Match Referee Farokh Engineer found him guilty of level 4.2 offence," IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi told media after Engineer's hearing at the Maurya Sheraton hotel, Delhi, on Monday.
"Accordingly, Harbhajan Singh has been banned for the rest of the IPL matches, besides fined 100 per cent of his match fees," added Modi.
As per the ICC [Images] Code of Conduct, physically assaulting a fellow-player, match official or spectator, constitutes a Level 4 offence, which entails maximum punishment of life ban or a minimum of five Tests or 10 ODIs ban.
Modi said the BCCI can conduct its own hearing into the episode and Harbhajan has the liberty to file an appeal in this case.
He said video footage of the incident showed Harbhajan shaking hands with the Kings XI Punjab players, but when he came to Sreesanth he slapped him.
Harbhajan and Sreesanath were later summoned to the room where the media briefing was held. Admitting his fault, Harbhajan said: "I have accepted the punishment which had been handed down by the IPL. I did something wrong, which should not have happened in the first place. To me, Sreesanath is like a younger brother and we will be playing together. When I come back I will bring glory to the country. I ask for forgiveness from the people of India."
Sreesanath did not utter a word. At Engineer's request, both hugged each other.
"We are all human beings and mistakes do happen," said Engineer, adding "a very, very fair hearing was given to all sides. No track record was taken into account, because what actually happened is lot more serious than you guys think."
The former India wicketkeeper said, "Harbhajan stepped out of line and paid the penalty".
Asked what made him slap Sreesanth, Harbhajan did not reply, but was quick to express his gratitude to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for standing firmly behind him in his verbal spat with Andrew Symonds during the Indian team's visit to Australia few months back.