Mumbai:Harbhajan Singh would never even have imagined in his wildest dreams that the angry slap he planted on S Sreesanth's face would make him poorer by more than two and a half crore of rupees!
The temperamental off spinner was fined 100 per cent of his match fees when he was handed out an eleven-match ban for his unprovoked assault on India teammate Sreesanth after the Mohali game between Harbhajan's Mumbai Indians and the latter's King's XI of Punjab on April 25.
The Punjab-born Harbhajan had been purchased by the Mumbai franchise team owned by Reliance Industries for a whopping $8,50,000 (approximately Rs 3.4 crore).
"There are no separate match fees for IPL matches and the players are given only allowances. The match fee is calculated on a pro-rata basis of the amount he had been bought for by his franchise owner and the number of matches he's able to play", a top Cricket Board source informed.
As per this calculation the player, termed "Turbanator" by the Aussie press, stood to lose Rs 2.671 crore - or close to Rs 25 lakh per match - for the 11 ties he would miss following the verdict by IPL match referee and former Test stumper, Farokh Engineer.
It must rank among the costliest-ever slaps in world history, and certainly a record-setting one in cricket!
The lone consolation, if it can be called so, is that the man who handed out the punishment also hailed him as the best-ever off spinner India has produced.
One wonders what legendary predecessor Erapalli Prasanna, Engineer's one-time teammate and pal, would make of this statment, not to talk of another great who's among Harbhajan's staunchest critics - Bishen Singh Bedi.