Umpire Amiesh Saheba: "He [Sreesanth] is one of India's main bowlers, and yet, he is not doing anything to get rid of that schoolboy image of his" © Getty Images
The BCCI has sought an explanation from umpire Amiesh Saheba for his remarks, made to a Mumbai-based tabloid, about Sreesanth's behaviour. Saheba, one of the on-field umpires during the match in Mohali after which Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth had their now-infamous exchange, has been withdrawn by the governing council of the Indian Premier League from his next two matches.
Saheba told Mumbai Mirror Sreesanth had been warned by him and fellow umpire Aleem Dar, and went on to say the fast bowler was "disliked in the Indian dressing room". "Sreesanth was sledging Mumbai's batsmen right from the start," Saheba said. " He was over the top throughout the match and was acting like a petulant schoolboy. My colleague Aleem Dar and I warned him twice and we warned [Punjab captain] Yuvraj [Singh] too."
Saheba said Sreesanth didn't heed the warning. "It was obvious by then that victory for Kings XI Punjab was a mere formality, but Sreesanth kept at it. Musavir Khote was the last man out for Mumbai, and Sreesanth was the one who got him. He even sledged Khote when he was on his way back to the pavilion. Surely, this would not have escaped the eyes of the Mumbai players.
"During the post-match handshake between the two teams, we came to know that Sreesanth said something to Harbhajan, who was in a foul mood. What happened next, everybody knows."
Saheba and Dar were not called for a hearing held by the IPL on Monday, at which Harbhajan pleaded guilty to the charges of slapping Sreesanth and was banned by the match referee, Farokh Engineeer, for the rest of the first IPL season. He was also fined 100% of his match fee and will now be paid for only two of the matches he played in the tournament instead of his full US$850,000 auction fee.
While condemning Harbhajan's act, Saheba said Sreesanth wasn't a favourite in the India dressing room. "He is one of India's main bowlers, and yet, he is not doing anything to get rid of that schoolboy image of his. His colleagues are not too happy with that."