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April 26, 2008
Harbhajan Singh has been temporarily suspended from the Indian Premier League following his spat with Sreesanth at the end of the Mumbai-Punjab game in Mohali on Friday.
His suspension is pending the inquiry into the incident on Monday, which means he would not be able to play Mumbai's home match against Deccan Chargers on Sunday.
"Based on prima facie video evidence as seen and reviewed by the match adjudicator and referee Farokh Engineer from the tapes provided by Sony & TWI a decision has been reached to suspend Harbhajan Singh pending the inquiry into the incident on Monday, April 28th 2008," a release from the Indian board said.
Engineer will conduct a hearing on April 28 inquiring into the Harbhajan-Sreesanth row in Delhi. Both Harbhajan and Sreesanth will be present and video evidence, if any, will be used during the hearing which will be conducted as per the ICC Code of Conduct.
Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer of the board, said Harbhajan was answerable to both the IPL and the BCCI. "There will be separate inquiries from the IPL and BCCI," he said.
Engineer was the match referee of the game between the Kings XI Punjab and the Mumbai Indians, after the completion of which Harbhajan allegedly slapped Sreesanth, reducing him to tears on the field. Although both players sought to play down the incident, the Punjab team lodged a formal complaint against Harbhajan Singh to the BCCI. The Indian board took a serious view of the incident and asked him submit his explanation before April 28.
"The inquiry date has been fixed for Monday in New Delhi. We are not going to sweep things under the carpet. The complaint has to be carefully examined before any decision is made," Engineer said. "Everything possible will be done to adjudicate it immediately.
"The complaint made by the management of the Punjab team has been referred to me by Lalit Modi, chief commissioner of the IPL, for immediate adjudication under the ICC Code of Conduct. I have already started the process and will be summoning all concerned and will also seek any video evidence recorded by the host broadcaster.
"Since the process has started I will request the media not to seek any further clarification or information. I will furnish my report to chief commissioner of IPL, keeping in view the ICC code of Conduct and interest of cricket."
The Mumbai Indians are hopeful the issue will be resolved amicably. Reacting to the news that Harbhajan has been temporarily suspended till the hearing on Monday, a top team official of the Mumbai Indians said, "The incident involving Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth of the Kings XI Punjab was most unfortunate.
"The [IPL] governing council has set up an adjudication panel to inquire into the incident. The Mumbai Indians are confident that the decision taken by the panel will be in the best interests of cricket and the Indian Premier League."
IS Bindra, the Punjab Cricket Association president, said they would provide logistical support to Engineer to conduct the inquiry. The hearing will take place at the Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi on April 28th, after which Engineer will announce his verdict.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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