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Harbhajan hearing today, 10-match ban likely


Roma Khanna,CNN-IBN
Apr 28, 2008 at 10:24pm IST

Mumbai: The Indian Premier League has temporarily suspended Harbhajan Singh following his spat with Sreesanth after the game between Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings XI on Friday in Mohali.

Harbhajan's hearing will be held on Monday and sources tell CNN-IBN that an eight to ten match ban is on the cards for the off-spinner.

In an 11-year career, Harbhajan and controversies have been constant bedfellows, but this time he seems to have pushed the envelope too far and the BCCI bosses seem determined to send out a strong message.

Chairman and Commissioner of IPL, Lalit Modi said, "We took action because there was conclusive proof. We went through many, many angles on the tape and we found conclusive proof of the incident."

Match referee Farokh Engineer will be provided with evidence from footage made avaiable by Sony and TWI.

The BCCI has already said that there is prima facie evidence to suggest that Bhajji did indeed slap Sreesanth, although Farokh Engineer has said that he will consider all aspects of the incident before taking a final decision.

Farokh Engineer says, "We are assimilating all the facts and findings and I can assure you that a fair decision will be taken. We are not saying sweep things under the carpet."

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

RIL is 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 too keen to be seen opposing the IPL top brass so early in the tournament.

"It's a Level 4 punishment which has it's own guidelines laid down and the minimum is a 10-match ban while the maximum is a life ban," says Lalit Modi.

Although Harbhajan Singh was unavailable for comments, it has been learnt that he is regretting his rash actions. Whatever be the case, his fate will be decided soon enough.

Meanwhile, the BCCI has also decided on a reprimand for Sreesanth, asking him to mend his aggressive ways too.

HARBHAJAN'S HEARING

  • The hearing, which will take place in New Delhi will most likely see Harsha Bhogle accompanying Harbhajan Singh while Neil Maxwell will be with Sreesanth.
  • Also, there will be no further punishment for Harbhajan by the BCCI after IPL decides to impose a ban.
  • Ahead of the verdict, Chennai Super Kings Captain MS Dhoni said one needs to look beyond the TV footage before drawing conclusions. He said: "I hope the authorities check the actual sequence of events rather than just what the footage shows. It's a lot like what happened between Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi. What Zidane did was wrong, but Materazzi also was not completely in the right.

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