Harbhajan faces ban over slap
India spinner is suspended from the domestic Twenty20 tournament pending a hearing.
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2008 09:07 GMT

India's Harbhajan Singh is once again in trouble with the BCCI and ICC after slapping another player [AFP]

Harbhajan Singh, India spinner, could face a lengthy ban from cricket after being accused of slapping national team-mate Shanthakumaran Sreesanth during a domestic Twenty20 match.

Harbhajan allegedly slapped Sreesanth soon after a match in Mohali on Friday night, leaving the young paceman weeping inconsolably in full view of television cameras.
Harbhajan, Mumbai captain, later apologised to Punjab's Sreesanth and the two appeared to have made up by calling each other "brothers."

However Punjab team management lodged a formal complaint against Harbhajan to tournament officials.
The spinner, 27, was suspended from the tournament pending a hearing by Farokh Engineer, match referee, in New Delhi on Monday, which means Harbhajan will miss Mumbai's next match on Sunday.

"We are not going to sweep things under the carpet," Engineer told Indian media.

"Indiscipline will not be tolerated and the player will face the consequences... "

Ratnakar Shetty,
BCCI official
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed it will take separate action against Harbhajan, who is on its payroll as a centrally contracted player, under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules.

"Indiscipline will not be tolerated and the player will face the consequences for what he has done," Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI official, told AFP.

Harbhajan will be charged under level 4 of the ICC's Code of Conduct which deals with assaulting a fellow player, and if found guilty he could be banned for life or five Test matches or 10 one-day internationals.

Niranjan Shah, BCCI secretary, said in a statement Harbhajan had been "called upon to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him."

Controversial past

Harbhajan was banned for three Tests earlier this year after being found guilty of making racist remarks against Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, but was let off with a fine following an appeal to the ICC.

Sreesanth, 24, has also faced disciplinary action in the past for misbehaviour on the field, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the BCCI.

"We have warned Sreesanth in the past to behave himself and will do so again," said Shetty.

"We want to first find out what transpired on Friday night."

Tom Moody, former Australian all-rounder who is coaching the Punjab team, said the incident was "unacceptable."

"At the end of the day, players shake hands. But what we saw was something you don't want to see," Moody said.

"The positive thing is that Harbhajan had a long chat with Sreesanth. But I am not sure what ramifications this incident will have."

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