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Apr 29, 2008 at 09:20pm IST

Bhajji has learnt lesson; he will behave: Modi

New Delhi: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was on Monday banned for 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and fined 100 per cent of his last match fee for slapping his fellow Team India player Sreesanth.

Harbhajan, stand-in captain for Mumbai Indians, was found guilty of slapping Kings XI Punjab pacer Sreesanth after a match between their teams in Mohali on Friday. Mumbai Indians team manager Lalchand Rajput was fined 50 percent of his match fee, for he was a witness to the incident but didn't take appropriate action.

Will the spat between Indian players dent IPL’s image? CNN-IBN asked IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi. “It won’t impact IPL’s image. Harbhajan crossed the laksman rekha (the limit) but there is a positive spin to this. Players are taking this tournament to be their own and they are fighting for it as if they would be fighting for their own team,” he said.

Asked if the incident in Mohali reflected on Indian cricketers, Modi said: “Indian players take the game very seriously and they are very passionate about it.”

“An ugly incident like this shouldn’t have happened but on the field players become aggressive and it happens in all games. Players though should control their aggression and be gentleman like.”

“We have sent out a strong message by banning him for 11 matches. We have also fined him 100 per cent of his pay cheque and that is close to $6,000. It is not a soft penalty that we have given, we have sent out a strong message. We have penalized the manager (Rajput) too for not rectifying the situation. We have sent out a message that this kind of incident will not be tolerated. IPL is not just another tournament—it is a very serious tournament,” he said.

Modi said it wouldn’t be “fair” to make public the video footage of the incident. “The Board (BCCI) has decided not to show the video to anybody. The people concerned have seen the video and I think it is enough for the time being.”

“I think Harbhajan has learnt his lesson. In my view, he will behave. A message has gone to all players down the line,” he said.