New Delhi, Apr 26: Controversial spinner Harbhajan Singh has been temporarily suspended from the tournament for allegedly slapping S Sreesanth after an IPL match.
"Based on prima facie video evidence as seen and reviewed by the match adjudicator and referee Mr Farokh Engineer from the tapes provided by Sony & TWI, a decision has been reached to suspend with immediate effect Harbhajan Singh of the Mumbai Indians pending the inquiry into the incident on Monday, April 28, 2008," IPL Chairman and Commissioner Lalit Modi said in a statement.
"The inquiry into the incident at Mohali in the game between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians will now take place at the Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi on April 28th 2008. A final verdict would be announced by the adjudicator Farokh Engineer post hearing at New Delhi", he said.
Harbhajan who was leading the Mumbai Indians side in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, raised a storm after allegedly slapping Kings XI pacer Sreesanth on Friday night moments after his team Mumbai Indians slumped to their third defeat in a row.
Harbhajan and Sreesanth displayed brotherly love after the bitter spat saying they have patched up, but the Kings XI Punjab management lodged a complaint against Harbhajan.
"Harbhajan is like an elder brother to me. He came and spoke to me and there are no issues. I play my game with a lot of passion. Whatever happened was between us. He apologised to me and it was sorted out," Sreesanth said.
Asked to elaborate on what exactly happened, Sreesanth said, "It was just a shake hand in the wrong place."
Kings XI Punjab termed Harbhajan's behaviour as "unacceptable and against the spirit of the game".
"The complaint is in relation to Friday's incident following the match against Mumbai Indians where Harbhajan made an unprovoked attack on Sreesanth. The Kings XI Punjab team and management consider this behaviour unacceptable and against the spirit of the game," the statement added.
IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter after receiving the complaint.
"I have officially received a complaint from the Kings XI team management about the alleged incident at Mohali," Modi said in a statement.
"The complaint has been forwarded to the match referee Farokh Engineer for a detailed inquiry as per the ICC Code of Conduct and the ICC disciplinary procedures for team players and officials, which will be applied with immediate effect in this case," he added.
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was the first to react after news channels aired picture of Sreesanth weeping on the field after the incident.
BCCI talked tough condemning such behaviour from its contracted players and asked Harbhajan to file an explanation by Monday evening.
"The BCCI has taken serious note of the incident between Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth at Mohali yesterday after the IPL Match," BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said.
"The BCCI condemns the behaviour of Harbhajan Singh as a contracted player of the board and he is called upon to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. He has been asked for clarification by Monday evening (April 28)," the board's statement added.
BCCI chief administrative officer (CAO) Ratnakar Shetty termed the incident as unfortunate.
"Physical attack in any form is not acceptable on the field and if the match referee complains, action will be taken against Harbhajan. There is a process in place and action will be taken as per the code applicable," he said.
Harbhajan, on his part denied slaping Sreesanth.
"I didn't slap Sreesanth. The media is blowing the issue out of proportion."
"Everything has been sorted out between us. He is like a younger brother to me and I have spoken to him after the match was over last night," Harbhajan said.
Kings XI Punjab skipper Yuvraj Singh however termed the incident as "ugly".
"It was very unfortunate. It should not have happened. Harbhajan later came into the dressing room and I believe he has apologised to Sreesanth," Yuvraj said Friday.