Harbhajan banned for five ODIs

New Delhi, May 14:

Harbhajan Singh has been banned for five one-day internationals for slapping Test teammate Shantakumaran Sreesanth and faces a life ban for any more serious disciplinary breaches.

Niranjan Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, today said Singh was banned after pleading guilty to slapping Sreesanth after playing against him in a domestic Twenty20 match last month.

The BCCI’s disciplinary panel, headed by board president Sharad Pawar, decided the punishment at an urgent meeting after receiving the report from its inquiry commissioner Sudhir Nanavati. “The player admitted his guilt, he prayed for leniency,” Shah said, adding that Singh promised that “there would not be any misconduct on his part in the future.”

The maximum punishment was five limited-overs internationals or three Test matches, Shah said, warning that “any further instance of misconduct will invoke a life-ban.” Singh will be dropped from the Indian team for next month’s limited-overs tri-series in Bangladesh and also miss two one-dayers during the Asia Cup in Pakistan.

Singh has already been banned from the remainder of the 2008 season in the lucrative domestic Twenty20 tournament, costing him a substantial portion of a contract worth $850,000 for the season.