Give Harbhajan one more chance: Nanavati

CNN-IBN
May 13, 2008 at 06:07pm IST

New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appointed Appeals Commissioner Sudhir Nanavati has submitted his report on the Harbhajan Singh-S Sreesanth slapgate issue on Tuesday to the cricket board's Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty.

The Ahmedabad-based lawyer's 14-page report was prepared after Nanavati recorded statements of Harbhajan, Sreesanth, Match Referee Farokh Engineer and the two on-field umpires - Aleem Dar of Pakistan and India's Amiesh Saheba.

CNN-IBN has learnt that Nanavati's report says that Harbhajan has already been punished harshly and should be given another chance and Engineer has echoed his (Nanavati) views.

In his report Nanavati quotes Saheba as saying that there were three incidents in the match where Sreesanth provoked the Mumbai team. Sreesanth was slapped by Harbhajan after the first-round match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab on April 25.

Sources confirmed to CNN-IBN that the incident was not pre-meditated and was an impulsive reaction.

Nanavati's says slapping a colleague is totally unacceptable but he also feels that the off-spinner has already been punished and should be given one more chance. Engineer said that Harbhajan's actions were indefensible but he had been punished heavily for them already.

Sreesanth himself said that he knew Harbahajan's actions weren't intentional and that he now wants to forgive and forget.

Harbahajan was very apologetic and didn't counter any of the charges against him and promised never to repeat his mistake.

"My report has all details on what had happened on the field. It is for the Disciplinary Committee to decide on the punishment for Harbhajan," Nanavati said after submitting the report in Mumbai to Shetty.

He also reiterated that the footage of the incident had 'shocked him'.

The report will be examined by BCCI President Sharad Pawar and then reviewed by a three-member Disciplinary Committee, which will decide the quantum of punishment for Harbhajan. The Committee includes Pawar, BCCI present-elect Shashank Manohar and Vice President Chirayu Amin.

Reacting to Nanavati's submission of the report, Shetty said, "The Disciplinary Committee will meet soon to study the report and the decision will be based on it."

Sources, however, have told CNN-IBN that Harbhajan will almost certainly not get a life ban, but could be banned for five-10 One Day Internationals and is also likely to demoted to Category C of BCCI contracts from his current Category B.

Nanavati had met the players last Friday and recorded their statements. Harbhajan has already been banned for 11 matches by the Indian Premier league (IPL).

Harbhajan, who was bought by Mumbai Indians for Rs 3.40 crore, has also lost nearly Rs 3 crore of match fee.

After the slapping incident, the BCCI set up a separate one-man inquiry committee to investigate into the case.

Umpire Saheba was also suspended by the IPL for one match after he reportedly spoke to some Mumbai newspapers on the slapping issue.

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