May 09, 2008 at 02:46pm IST

Slapgate: BCCI divided over punishing Bhajji

New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) remains divided over the punishment that should be meted out to Harbhajan Singh for slapping S Sreesanth after the Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab Indian Premier League (IPL) match on April 25.

Harbhajan, already banned by the IPL for 11 matches will have the opportunity to plead his case to the BCCI's Appeals Commissioner Sudhir Nanavati on Friday evening.

He will sit across a man who already seems to have passed judgement on him. After watching the footage of the incident, Nanavati had described the evidence as "shocking" and punishment seems inevitable.

IN HAPPIER DAYS: Harbhajan Singh had slapped S Sreesanth after the Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab IPL match on April 25.

"If he is getting fee from two places, then he should get two punishments too,"

Nanavati had said a few days ago.

Rumours have been flying around thick and fast on just what exactly Harbhajan's punishment would be.

Several senior cricket officials as well as members of the Indian team; CNN-IBN learns are pushing for the bare minimum punishment. They say Harbhajan shouldn't be punished for the same crime twice.

But there are still voices in the BCCI who want to make an example of Harbhajan and hand him at least a 10-match ban, despite Harbhajan repeating this heart-felt apology from the day he was banned privately to BCCI bosses.

"I committed a blunder. Whatever happened was wrong and it shouldn't have happened. I have accepted the punishment," Harbhajan said after his 11-match ban by the IPL.

While Nanavati has made it clear that recommending punishment against Sreesanth is not part of his brief; Mumbai Indians coach Lalchand Rajput will almost certainly faces censure.

Rajput was apparently seen laughing after Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth and was expectedly evasive when questioned about it.

"I don't want to comment on this issue. I have not been called," Rajput replied.

Nanavati will have the weekend to finalise his report before he submits it to BCCI President Sharad Pawar on Monday but sources tell CNN-IBN that the BCCI wants to end the issue quickly.

(With inputs from Roma Khanna and Rudraneil Sengupta)

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