Special Correspondent

Also fined 100 per cent match fee; coach Rajput also fined 50 per cent of match fee

Sreesanth escapes with a warning

Rajput found guilty of level 2 offence

NEW DELHI: Harbhajan Singh was on Monday banned from further participation in this edition of the Indian Premier League.

The decision was arrived at following a hearing here when Harbhajan pleaded guilty and later apologised publicly.

Harbhajan, leading the Mumbai Indians, was found guilty of having physically assaulted Kings XI Punjab speedster S. Sreesanth at the end of their match at Mohali on Friday.

He was also fined 100 per cent match fee from the third match onwards while the Mumbai team coach Lalchand Rajput was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for not preventing Harbhajan from slapping Sreesanth.

Warning for Sreesanth

Sreesanth escaped with a warning that in future he would be dealt with strictly for any aggression on the field.

“He was told that in future his on-field aggression would be taken seriously,” said the IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi.

At the end of the press conference, Harbhajan and Sreesanth were presented to the media and made to shake hands and embrace each other.

Sreesanth chose not to speak but Harbhajan made a statement, “whatever happened was very bad and I feel sorry for it. Sreesanth is like a brother. We have been playing together and will play together in the future, too.

“I have been punished for the wrong I did.

“I have respect for the Board and we all know the Board has treated the players like its children. I hope the Board will continue to support me and I seek the support from the people. I will bring smiles to your faces whenever I play next.”

Modi further stated, “after studying the video footage in the presence of Sreesanth, complainant Neil Maxwell (CEO, Kings XI Punjab), Harbhajan and Lalchand Rajput, managers of both the teams and considering the submissions from both sides and in view of Harbhajan’s admission the Match Referee (Farokh Engineer) found him guilty of level 4.2 offence.

“Accordingly Harbhajan has been banned for the rest of the IPL matches,” added Modi.

A 4.2 offence relates to physically assaulting a fellow player, match official or spectator and as Modi pointed out the penalty ranges from a minimum of five Tests or 10 one-day internationals to a maximum of life ban.

Rajput was found guilty of level 2 offence related to acting against the spirit of the game. According to Modi, the Mumbai Indians coach was behind Harbhajan but he did not try to stop the off-spinner. “The video footage showed Harbhajan shaking hands with the rival players but slapping Sreesanth, who was third in the line,” said Modi.

Fair hearing

Engineer claimed the two sides had been given a “very, very fair” hearing and no track record was considered to arrive at any decision. The Match Referee praised Sreesanth for remaining calm and described Harbhajan as the greatest off-spinner produced by India. “But he paid the penalty for crossing the line.”

The Board, meanwhile, has appointed Mr. Sudhir Nanavati, an advocate from Ahmedabad as Commissioner to make the preliminary inquiry and call for explanation from the person(s) concerned and submit his report within 15 days to the Board President Sharad Pawar. The matter will be referred to the Board’s Disciplinary Committee once Mr. Nanavati submits his report.

Interesting observation

The Board’s Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty made an interesting observation following the ban on Harbhajan. “It appears some players are finding it tough to cope with the money involved (in the IPL) and the publicity they receive. Keeping that in mind, the Board is planning an Orientation Project under Ravi Shastri.

“I am a teacher and I think these players need counselling. Some of them come from backgrounds where they may not be that well educated,” he added.

PTI reports:

Harbhajan’s reply

Manwhile, Harbhajan Singh has replied to the BCCI’s show cause notice issued to him.

“He has given his reply, but I cannot reveal its contents,” said BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah from Rajkot.

Harbhajan’s recidivism

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