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April 26, 2008
The Punjab team has lodged a formal complaint against Harbhajan Singh to the BCCI, even as the Indian board took a serious view of the "slapping" incident during the post-match proceedings at Mohali and asked him submit his explanation before April 28. Harbhajan allegedly hit Sreesanth, his India team-mate and IPL rival, after Friday's match between the Kings XI Punjab and the Mumbai Indians.
"Kings XI Punjab confirms that a formal complaint against Mr Harbhajan Singh was submitted to the BCCI earlier today," a media statement issued by the team said. "The complaint is in relation to yesterday's incident following the match against Mumbai Indians, where Mr Singh made an unprovoked attack on Mr Sreesanth. The Kings XI Punjab team and management consider this behaviour unacceptable and against the spirit of the game."
Meanwhile, Niranajan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said that Harbhajan needed to clarify the reasons that prompted his act of indiscipline. "The BCCI has taken serious note of the incident that took place between Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth at Mohali after the IPL match. The BCCI condemns the behaviour of Harbhajan as a contracted player of the board and he is called upon to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. And [Harbhajan] has been asked for a clarification by Monday evening [April 28]."
Earlier Farokh Engineer, the match referee in the Mohali game, had told Cricinfo that he hasn't received any verbal or written complaint from the Punjab team. Engineer also said he did not witness the alleged incident. "In the absence of any evidence I am in the dark. I don't know what went on on the pitch and what triggered the alleged incident," he said.
Engineer has sought video evidence from the television broadcasters before taking any action. "If the incident is true some action will be taken. If there is definite, conclusive proof then it's just not cricket."
Under the level 4.1 of the ICC's Code of Conduct, physical assault of another player, umpire, referee, official or spectator will result in a ban of between 5 Tests of 10 one-day internationals up to a life ban for the player or official concerned.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that Harbhajan might be asked to step down as captain of the Mumbai Indians till the issue is resolved. Harbhajan was asked to lead the side after Sachin Tendulkar failed to recover from a groin injury. Bought at a cost of US$111.9 million, Mumbai are the most expensive of the eight IPL franchises but have yet to win a game.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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