Nanavati to question Bhajji on Friday

Speedster S Sreesanth insists that he has not mellowed down despite the slap-gate involving India teammate and IPL rival Harbhajan Singh.

updated: May 13, 2008 12:55 IST
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The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has begun its own investigation into the now-famous slap-gate controversy.

BCCI-appointed commissioner Sudhir Nanavati who is looking into the matter, met Farokh Engineer, the match referee from that ill-tempered match in Mohali, on Tuesday. The meeting took place in Mumbai, with Nanavati, the IPL Chairman and Commissioner, Lalit Modi, and BCCI Secretary Niranajan Shah in attendance. Curiously former internatioanl umpire S Venkataraghavan also attended the meeting. The panel saw the same footage that Engineer had seen before handing out an 11-match ban to off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for slapping Kings XI Punjab's S Sreesanth.

After the meeting, Nanavati said that he was shocked to see the footage of the Sree-Bhajji incident.

"What I saw was shocking but it has made my job easier. It will also help me in my further investigation," he told reporters after viewing the footage of the incident, that took place after an Indian Premier League match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab on April 25.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been asked to appear before Nanavati on Friday in Ahmedabad. He is also meet Sreesanth the same day.

Nanavati's report to the BCCI could land Bhajji in further trouble, since time around he could be slapped with an international ban.

The footage of the incident showed Lalchand Rajput laughing and clapping when Harbhajan was punching Sreesanth, which led Nanavati to believe it was premeditated. He will also take Rajput's statement now.

If the action was premeditated then the punishment Nanavati would recommend will be greater as it was a more serious crime than a spontaneous action. While he believed there was enough provocation through the game from various accounts, the footage seemed to suggest Harbhajan had planned to punch Sreesanth.

Nanavati has taken Engineer's statement over the phone.

It would, however, be too early to say whether BCCI will act tougher against Bhajji now.

Nanavati will be meeting Sreesanth as well. The pacer was at the receiving end of the slap from Harbhajan Singh. Nanavati's final report is expected sometime next week. Harbhajan Singh has of course already been handed an 11-match ban from the DLF IPL and that all but rules him out for this season.

(With PTI inputs)