Harbhajan appeals for 'one final chance'

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/harbhajansree1.jpg' class='caption'> The BCCI sources have told NDTV that Harbhajan is likely to face a 10-match ban for slapping Sreesanth.

Updated: May 13, 2008 12:44 IST
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New Delhi:

The trouble for Harbhajan Singh does not seem to end. The IPL banned him for 11 matches and also scrapped him of his match fee for slapping pacer S Sreesanth. The country's cricket governing body BCCI had then said it would investigate the matter independently and slapped Harbhajan with a show cause notice.

They also set a committee led by Sudhir Nanavati to investigate the matter on basis of video footages and other proofs available.

Harbhajan Singh, the stand-in captain of Mumbai Indians, had slapped Sreesanth in his match against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. The TV footages showed Sreesanth in tears and later it was revealed that Bhajji had hit him during the post match ceremony. Many said Sreesanth was provocative and abusive. However, umpires' report said nothing about Sreesanth provoking Harbhajan.

Now with chances of him being banned for few international matches, Harbhajan in his letter has appealed the BCCI to give him 'one final chance'.

"I did apologise to Sreesanth after the incident and I would do so again in public if needed. Along with accepting my most sincere and heartfelt apologies over this incident, I would like to appeal to the board's sense of fair play and ask for one final chance before taking any disciplinary action against me over this incident."

The BCCI sources have told NDTV that Harbhajan is likely to face a 10-match ban for slapping Sreesanth. He might also be fined 10-20% of his yearly contract of 40 lakh as a Grade B player. Harbhajan's past record will also play a part in deciding his penalty as he has been involved in past seven instances.

The board will punish him for the level 4 offences as per the ICC Players' Code of Conduct. A level 4 offence leads to a maximum punishment of a life ban or a minimum ban of five Tests or 10 One-Day Internationals.

The BCCI's decision came after another review of the footage of the incident, which apparently indicated that Sreesanth hadn't provoked Harbhajan at all. Apparently, he not even said "hard luck" to the controversial off-spinner.

The video footages showed Harbhajan first meeting Yuvraj Singh. He then met another Mohali player before proceeding to Sreesanth whom he whacked with the back of his hand and then kept walking.

Sreesanth walked back to retaliate but was stopped by other Mohali players. Lalchand Rajput, coach of Harbhajan's Mumbai Indians was seen standing behind Harbhajan and laughing.

If it can be established through interviews with Harbhajan, Sreesanth, Yuvraj and Rajput that the action was spontaneous and not preplanned then it is possible that Harbhajan could face a smaller fine and be banned for fewer matches.

But chances of that is very bleak as the BCCI-appointed Commissioner Sudhir Nanavati said he was left stunned after seeing the video footage of the incident.

"It looks like Harbhajan's action was pre-meditated rather than spontaneous," Nanavati told NDTV.

Mumbai coach Lalchand Rajput was also penalised by the IPL and Nanavati justified it.

"Physical assault of another player is very serious and never done before so BCCI wants to set a precedent," Nanavati said.

Now, Harbhajan like many of us will have to wait and watch till this weekend what BCCI has in store for him.

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