Bhajji pleads guilty, banned for 11 matches

CNN-IBN
Apr 28, 2008 at 11:41pm IST

New Delhi: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was given an 11-match ban in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Monday by the BCCI following his spat with Sreesanth after the game between Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings XI on Friday in Mohali.

Harbhajan also pleaded guilty to the slapping incident. He said, “I have no malice towards Sreesanth and whatever happened did not come from any ill intention.”

"All I want to say is whatever happened and whatever I did was grossly wrong. Sreesanth is like my brother. We have played together and we will play together again.

"I got punishment for whatever I did but the Board has always treated me like its child and I hope they will continue to support me. When I come back to play again, I will bring smiles to your faces," he said.

The inquiry, conducted by match referee Farukh Engineer, found the slapping incident was completely unprovoked. Harbhajan was also been fined 100 per cent of his match fee.

Minutes after the verdict, BCCI’s Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty told CNN-IBN, “His (Harbhajan) troubles are not over. He has a showcause notice pending against him with the BCCI and he has to answer to the BCCI independently.”

Shetty also said that Harbhajan may be playing IPL but he's a contracted player of the BCCI and bound by the code of conduct.

“The inquiry commissioner, Mr Nanavati, will look into the matter further. The thing is that unfortunately, Harbhajan Singh has a history of being aggressive. IPL is like any other domestic tournament and such things are not acceptable even in domestic tournaments,” Shetty added.

Meanwhile, Sreesanth has been let off with a warning.

Shetty also spoke about how the pacer was warned before the Australia series.

"I had written a letter to Sreesanth asking him to refrain from antics on the field in the name of aggression. I said that people like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Laxman are all aggressive but through their performance, not through cheap antics," he said.

Reacting to the BCCI verdict, former cricket Kris Srikkant told CNN-IBN, “As Prof Shetty put it, it’s the right punishment. A senior cricketer like him (Harbhajan) should have realised what he was doing. He almost got away with it in Australia because the entire team backed him. But it cannot happen all time and as a captain of the team, he should have acted more responsibly.”

In an 11-year career, Harbhajan and controversies have been constant bedfellows and it seems the BCCI was determined to send out a strong message to the players.

The BCCI has already said that there is prima facie evidence to suggest that Harbhajan did slap Sreesanth.

CNN-IBN also learnt that Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is unhappy with Harbhajan's behaviour and do not want to be associated with such a controversy.

It is believed that RIL was in no mood to make this a long-drawn out process. While Harbhajan is a popular member of the Mumbai Indians team, RIL management is not keen on being seen opposing the IPL top brass so early in the tournament.

BHAJJI ON THE BACKFOOT

bulletIn 1997-98 Harbhajan was fined 50 per cent of match fee and given a one-match suspension for abusing Ricky Pointing.

bulletIn 2001-02 he was fined 75 per cent of match fee and again one-match suspension for showing dissent at umpire's decision and attempting to intimidate him.
bulletIn 2002-03 he was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for using abusive and foul language against the umpire.
bulletEarlier this year he was fined 50 per cent of match fees for using obscene language against Andrew Symonds. However, he was cleared off charges of racially abusing him.

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