Mumbai, May 14 (UNI) The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), while issuing a final warning to temperamental off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to mend his ways or face a life ban, today imposed a five ODI ban on him for slapping S Sreesanth.
This decision means that Harbhajan will miss the forthcoming tri-series in Bangladesh and two matches of the Asia Cup to be held in Pakistan.
The Indian cricket board's disciplinary committee, comprising of its President Sharad Pawar, President-elect Shashank Manohar and Vice President Chirayu Amin, met here and took a decision after going through the 14-page report submitted by the BCCI-appointed commissioner Sudhir Nanavati and also after hearing Harbhajan Singh out once more.
The Committee invoked Rule 3.2.1 of the BCCI Regulations for Players, Team officials, Managers, Umpires and Administrators. Under this provision, the maximum punishment that can be meted out to a player is a ban up to a maximum of five ODIs and/or three Test matches.
The off-spinner was lucky to get off with just a five ODI ban, as the disciplinary committee also took into account the ban already handed down by the Indian Premier League (IPL) and also for the fact that Harbhajan himself agreed to his indiscretion and sought forgiveness, telling the board that he would not repeat his actions and one more chance should be given to him.
Sharad Pawar, while speaking to mediapersons after the disciplinary committee meeting, said ''any further instance of misconduct will lead to a life ban.'' Harbhajan, who was also present during the disciplinary committee meeting, was given a copy of the report and the Committee heard his version of the event.
Harbhajan admitted his guilt and asked for leniency and assured the Committee that there would not be any misconduct on his part in the future.
The off-spinner has already been banned for rest of the IPL matches and will also lose about Rs 3 crore in match fee.
Sreesanth, who was at the receiving end of Harbhajan's wrath, was warned against aggressive on-field behaviour and told that his conduct would be taken seriously.
''The Disciplinary Committee also considered Sreesanth. He has to improve a lot and if he does something similar in future, he will be dealt with firm hand,'' Board secretary Niranjan Shah said.
Mumbai Indians' coach Lal Chand Rajput was also pronounced guilty of a level 2 offence by IPL and was fined 50 per cent of his match fees for doing nothing to restrain Harbhajan when the incident took place.
The BCCI, under whose jurisdiction IPL is being held, decided to conduct a separate probe into the incident by appointing Nanavati who after viewing a video recording of the incident, summoned the warring players to Ahmedabad and conducted the probe.
Asked how Harbhajan reacted to his ban, Shah said, ''He is okay, he knows that he is guilty and the BCCI has also given a warning that if he gets involved in any further misconduct, he will be banned for life.'' UNI GS RKM GC1842