Mumbai Indians stand-in captain Harbhajan Singh was on Monday banned for the rest of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches to be held in this season and fined 100 per cent of his last match fee for slapping Kings XI Punjab pacer Sreesanth.
"The match referee went through the video footage and found the incident was totally unprovoked. Just after the match, Harbhajan was shaking hands with all Kings XI players and Sreesanth was third among the players.
"Instead of shaking hands, Harbhajan slapped him and proceeded," IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi told reporters here while announcing the decision of adjudicator Farokh Engineer.
"He has been found guilty of violating level 4.2 of the ICC (International Cricket Council) code of conduct that relates to physical assault on a player on a field which is a very serious offence. He has been banned for the rest of the IPL this season," he added.
Harbhajan was penalised 100 per cent of his fee for that particular match and will not get any payment for the rest of the series. He will only be paid for the first two matches.
Mumbai Indians' coach Lalchand Rajput was also penalised 50 per cent of his match fee as he was found guilty of breaching the spirit of the game. He was a witness to the incident but didn't take appropriate action.
Both Harbhajan and Sreesanth were present at the hearing and hugged each other at the press conference.
"I want to say that I committed a mistake and have been penalised for it. The board has always supported me and this time also they have taken a good decision," said Harbhajan.
BCCI, meanwhile, has appointed advocate Sudhir Nanavati who will make the preliminary inquiry into the incident. He will submit his report within 15 days to BCCI president Sharad Pawar.
BCCI's chief administrative officer, Ratnakar Shetty told media persons that this decision of banning Harbhajan Singh has been taken by the adjudicator after taking into consideration all aspects.
Shetty said, "Harbhajan's act has been condemned from all quarters. I always believe that there has to be aggression in cricket. Cricketers like Dravid, Tendulkar and Kumble have been quite aggressive on the filed. But I condemn this kind of an aggression."
It seems that Harbhajan can be in the midst of a bigger storm as Shetty said, "BCCI has also taken up this matter quite seriously. If they find him guilty too then he can face more action."
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